December 5, 2016 -
By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ - translated by J. Arnoldski -
The results of the December 4th presidential elections in Austria and referendum in Italy have been released. Already on the evening of December 4th, it became known that the candidate from the Austrian Freedom Party, Norbert Hofer, had conceded defeat in the presidential elections.
This morning, the results of the referendum in Italy were published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Italy after 95% of ballots had been counted. 60% of the country’s citizens did not support Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s initiative on constitutional amendments. Renzi has already accepted defeat and announced his resignation from the post of prime minister, which he promised he would do if the people voted against his constitutional reforms.
This news caused rejoicing in the opposition parties. “Hurrah! Democracy has won!,” Beppe Grillo, the founder of the largest opposition force in the country, the 5 Stars Movement, wrote on his Twitter. The leader of the Northern League, Matteo Salvini, expressed his satisfaction in a similar spirit.
Both of the voting results were expected. The “Le Pen principle”, when all establishment players unite against a right-wing non-systemic politician, worked against Norbert Hofer. On the other hand, opponents from the right flank played against “Renzi the reformer,” who wanted to centralize the chaotic political field in Italy. They were driven not by ideological, but by political interests. Nevertheless, the victory has acquired a certain ideological color, since the 5 Stars Movement and especially the Northern League are Eurosceptics. Even ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party, Forward Italy, opposed Renzi. The results of the referendum in Italy can be considered a defeat of the Eurobureaucracy.
Long before the referendum, some analysts predicted an “Italexit.” Indeed, even the possibility of the country exiting the EU would be a most powerful blow to Brussels, even more powerful than Brexit. Great Britain was never fully part of Europe, and did not even belong to the eurozone. But Italy is the third largest economy of the European Union with a population of 60 million. No less significant is that Italy, along with Greece, is the cultural capital of the Western (Romano-Germanic) world bordering the Slavic-Magyar periphery.
With high probability, we can predict early parliamentary elections in Italy, in which the opposition parties, primarily the non-establishment 5 Stars Movement, will have a good chance of improve their results. Even the possibility of these elections being held itself is a severe blow to the positions of the Eurobureaucracy and a leg up for the nationalist-Eurosceptic parties. The National Front in France and Alternative for Germany can rejoice: Renzi’s defeat and the prospect of early elections in Italy strengthens their positions.
2017 will be a year of elections in the leading EU countries: France (presidential elections in April) and Germany (Bundestag elections in September). Italy can now also be added to this list. If early parliamentary elections will be held, then the Eurobureaucrats (=Euroliberals) will suffer blows in all three of Europe’s leading countries.
The results of the referendum in Italy also have positive consequences for Russia. Even though President Vladimir Putin has established excellent business and personal relations with Matteo Renzi, who stood out amidst his Russophobic colleagues in Germany and Eastern Europe, Italy’s new prime minister could be a person even more disposed towards Russia. The Northern League’s Matteo Salvini, for example, a young and promising politician, is a vocal critic of Renzi's inconsistency and hypocrisy, namely, the difference between words on condemning the anti-Russian sanctions, but supporting them in deeds.
The Northern League and the 5 Stars Movement have leading or dominant positions in the regional councils of the northern industrialized regions of Italy which have sorely suffered from the sanctions. I believe that the formation of a government involving these two powerful forces would bury the sanctions, therein setting a precedent for other European countries that are losing out by following such anti-Russian/anti-European policies.
It is very important that this be done as fast as possible while the “Trump factor” (Trump being an American Eurosceptic) has positive significance for the European opponents of Brussels. Later, Trump could turn into an American imperialist par excellence and could revise his original attitude towards the sanctions.
The possibility of the new Italian prime minister being none other than the person who attended a European Parliament session with Vladimir Putin on his t-shirt is, in my opinion, quit palpable. The very nomination of another leader for the post of prime minister out of the new emerging coalition will steer Italy away from Brussels and in the direction of Moscow.
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