The far right victory in Italy

The victorious extreme right in Italy – In Tunisia, the effort seems to escape power

With 26% of the vote, according to partial results, Fratelli d’Italia, a national conservative party led by Giorgia Meloni, overwhelmingly won the Italian legislative election, which took place on 25 September. With 44% of the vote won by the coalition it forms with Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, the radical right has swept to power without difficulty after a campaign waged against the backdrop of war in Ukraine and the energy crisis. A first since 1945.

For her campaign, Giorgia Meloni, who will therefore become the first woman to become president of the Italian Council, used the magic ingredient that fits the context perfectly: populism. In an Italy in the midst of a gas crisis, over-indebtedness and a looming recession, Fratelli d’Italia has focused its program on themes dear to the far right: nationalism and identity retreat.

Measures in favor of “made in Italy”, policies to discourage relocation, Fratelli d’Italia protectionism are claimed and assumed. Similarly for identity issues, the theme of immigration was evidently at the heart of the campaign of the one now nicknamed “La Meloni”, who rose against “Islamist violence” and the “Islamization of Europe”.

The Fratelli d’Italia are also committed to defending the Italian and European borders, even mentioning the likely use of a maritime blockade.

And Tunisia in all this?

According to a report by the Italian Ministry of Labor and Social Policies, the number of Tunisians legally residing in Italy per 1 January 2021 94,246. The Tunisian community in Italy is the second in Europe, it ranks twelfth among the most important foreign communities present on Italian soil.

In August 2022, figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INS) regarding Tunisia’s trade for the first half of 2022 placed Italy as Tunisia’s number one trading partner ahead of France. Trade between the two countries reached 10,786.2 MD (3.43 billion euros) against 10,735 MD for France. A growth in trade of 27.24% compared to the same period in 2021.

Yes, but… Giorgia Melonis and the Italian far-right victory doesn’t seem to interest anyone…

Not a politician, not an economist, not an official party, not even the Presidency of the Republic or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to believe that the Italian legislative elections held yesterday have no significance for Tunisia.

But the effort is enormous, both in human and financial terms. Italy is actually geographically closer to Tunisia than Libya and Algeria, and the number of Tunisians residing legally in Italy is greater than those living in Algeria and Libya combined. The overwhelming majority of illegal Tunisians reside or migrate through Italy.

On the economic level, it seems necessary to bear in mind that Tunisian exports to Italy are significantly higher than those calculated for Algeria and Libya combined, estimated at 8.57 billion dinars against 661 million and 1.8 billion dinars respectively for the two neighboring countries. For imports from Italy, which are significantly higher than imports from Algeria (including gas) and Libya combined, it amounts to 8.47 billion dinars against 2.21 billion and 216 million respectively.

The victory of the Italian extreme right, the program it carries and the message it sends cannot leave Tunisia indifferent. The impact will be strong and inevitable. So far, what is happening outside the country’s borders does not seem to cause the slightest concern.

However, these elections, which have kept the whole of Europe in suspense, this victory described as a “turning page”, this event taking place at the European gates to Tunisia, should be the subject of all attention…

Myriam Ben Zineb

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