Monday, March 12, 2018

Thoughts on the Italian election

Matteo Salvini - leader of Lega and the center-right coalition (Wikicommons)

What do I think of the Italian election results? How well do they bear out the predictions I made last November? In some ways, the nationalists did better than I expected, and in some ways worse. First the good news.

Western Europe's first nationalist government

Lega Nord (now simply Lega) went into the election as a junior partner in a center-right coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi. It is now the senior partner. Berlusconi's party, Forza Italia, did poorly, getting only 14% of the popular vote in comparison to Lega's 17%. Given that 4% of all votes went to the other nationalist party in the coalition, Fratelli d'Italia, we see that Italian support for the center-right is much more nationalist than conservative.

With a plurality of seats in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, Matteo Salvini will likely form the next government. He will bring a new perspective to the job of Italian prime minister:

Matteo Salvini embraces a very critical view of the European Union (EU), especially of the euro, which he once described a "crime against humanity". Salvini is also opposed to illegal immigration and the EU's management of asylum seekers.

On economic issues, he supports flat tax, tax cuts, fiscal federalism, protectionism and, to some extent, agrarianism. On social issues, Salvini opposes same-sex marriage, while he supports family values and the legalisation of brothels. In foreign policy he opposed the international embargo against Russia of 2014 and supported an economic opening to Eastern Europe and to countries of the Far East such as North Korea. (Wikipedia 2018)

Lega's success is in contrast to the situation in France, the Netherlands, and Germany, where nationalist parties have done well but have never been part of a ruling coalition. We thus have the strange sight of Angela Merkel looking for coalition partners on the left and even the far left, while studiously ignoring Alternative für Deutschland, a party that won 13% of the popular vote in her country's last general election.

Now the bad news:

A hung parliament and false friends

Without a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, the center-right coalition will need support from the Movimento 5 Stelle (Five Star Movement), which came second with 33% of the popular vote. Unfortunately, that party will be far from supportive. It is not at all nationalist—contrary to what you may have read or heard.

Yes, the co-founder of the Five Star Movement, "Beppe" Grillo, has called for deportation of "terrorists" and people with no right to asylum:

"The migratory situation is out of control," Grillo wrote on his blog. "Our country is becoming a place where terrorists come and go and we are not able to recognise and report them and they can wander all over Europe undisturbed thanks to Schengen." "Those who have the right to asylum should stay in Italy, all the others should be repatriated at once, starting from today." "Schengen must be revised," he said, adding it should be suspended "immediately and border controls reinstated" when there is an attack until the suspects have been captured. (ANSA 2016)

Also, the current leader of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, has called for "an immediate stop to the sea-taxi service", i.e., the ferrying of African migrants to Italy by NGOs (Reuters 2017).

Tough words. Keep in mind, however, that similar words have been spoken by conservative politicians elsewhere—Deport terrorists! No fake refugees! The problem, here, isn't that such promises have often been broken. The problem is that the issue of population replacement isn't even being addressed. The deconstruction of Europe thus continues, and at an ever higher rate.

Furthermore, if we look at actual party policy, and not personal opinions, we get a different picture of the Five Star Movement. In 2014 its members voted to decriminalize illegal immigration:

The Five Star Movement activists say no to the crime of illegal immigration. The majority of votes, which were cast online on Beppe Grillo's blog, were in favor of repealing the crime of illegal immigration. Yes for the repeal: 15,839. No: 9,093. There were 24,932 voters. (Corriere del Sera 2014)

Admittedly, that was four years ago, but only this year Luigi Di Maio reacted angrily when “extremist” remarks were made about immigration by the center-right candidate for Lombardy, Attilio Fontana.

"Berlusconi says that we are worse than the post-communists, that they are moderate and we extremists, but after Fontana's phrase about the white race are we sure that they are the moderates? If they are moderate then I am Gandhi. [...] We want to know if Fontana remains their presidential candidate [for Lombardy]." (ANSA 2018b)

Were Fontana's remarks extremist? Judge for yourself:

This is not an issue of being xenophobic or racist, but a question of being logical or rational. We cannot [accept all asylum seekers] because we won’t all fit in, so we have to make choices. We must decide if our ethnicity, if our white race, if our society, should continue to exist or if it should be wiped out. A serious State should plan and program a situation of this type. It should say how many we consider it right to receive and how many migrants we don't want to allow in, how we want to assist them, what jobs to give them, what homes and schools to give them. At that point, when a government prepares a project of this type, it submits it to its citizens.

It is absolutely unacceptable to say that we have to accept them all. It is a scheme that we must react against, that it is necessary to rebel against. We cannot accept them all because, if we did, we would no longer be ourselves as a social reality, as an ethnic reality. Because there are many more of them than us, and they are much more determined to occupy this territory. (ANSA 2018a; ANSA 2018b)

On March 4, the people passed judgment on Fontana: he was elected governor of Lombardy.

In all this, the Five Star Movement comes across as being too worried about its image and not sufficiently concerned about offering a coherent policy. This is a common failing of populist movements.


With this election, the bloc of nationalist states has welcomed a new member—a country near the core of the Western world-system. There is now a continuous stretch of territory from the Baltic to the Mediterranean where post-nationalism is no longer a “consensus.”

This new reality has not gone unnoticed, and there will likely be efforts to turn back the clock. The Italian parliament will become mired in one stalemate after another, and Salvini may have to go directly to the people, using his bully pulpit to rally support for his measures. Don't expect to see the Five Star Movement play a constructive role.

Salvini will also face determined opposition from the courts, the civil service, and the media—what we call the deep state. The situation, however, isn't the same as in the United States, where the elites don’t feel much in common with the American people and see no reason why they should. If Salvini can present his arguments boldly and energetically, he will mobilize support even among his country’s elites.


ANSA (2018a). White race at risk - Fontana on migrants (2). Centre-right Lombardy candidate says not question of racism, ANSAen Politics, January 15

ANSA (2018b). Attilio Fontana si scusa per la 'razza bianca' ANSAit. Lombardia, January 17

ANSA (2106). Grillo calls for mass deportations (2).ANSAen Politics, December 23  

Corriere della Sera. (2014). Grillo, gli iscritti del M5S dicono no al reato di immigrazione clandestine, January 13

Reuters (2017). Italian prosecutors widen investigation to include MSF over migrant rescues: source, World News, August 5

Wikipedia (2018). Matteo Salvini


Anonymous said...

Peter, I was initIally elated to discover your blog because I was looking for hbd stuff that wasn't rooted in right wing thought (or any politics for that matter). I thought you were that until I kept reading. Although I've seen you assert that you're no WN, I can't really see anywhere else this road goes. I'm just somewhat saddened because as a nonwhite, I was excited to share some of your research with others but given your politics, I guess that's not a great idea. Your political sympathies would discredit your research in the eyes of my friends and colleagues.

Peter Frost said...

I dislike politics as much as you do, but there are times when one is morally bound -- as an academic -- to speak out. I am speaking out for the same reason that other anthropologists have condemned China's colonization of Tibet, the seizure and colonization of traditional land belonging to Chittagong Hill Tribes, and my own country's dispossession of First Nation peoples. Fundamentally, I don't see any difference, and people who see a fundamental difference need to rethink their assumptions.

I know of very few anthropologists, or social scientists in general, who have remained apolitical. Politics is a duty for all of us, and especially for those who try to think deeply about the human condition.

I don't consider myself a nationalist, for reasons that may seem intellectually obscure (In the past, nationalists sought to eliminate regional and local subcultures. In many ways, the logic of nationalism has led to the globalism we have today). Unfortunately, the range of political options is limited, and anyone who holds out for a more respectable option will end up waiting until it's too late.

Anonymous said...

I’m not worried about population replacement per se. white people can go to the most inhospiatable continent and make it prosperous(Australia). I believe white people will be a majority of the worlds population in the future, since they (and Asians) will be best able to survive in an age of automation, while others will face civil war and famine (and a minority will intermarry).
The situation in Europe is hardly comparable to Tibet. There, you had a more advanced population displace a less ambitious one. This is hardly the case now.
Also, why should these politicians speak exactly what they think? I’m sure privately they think exactly like you do, and they’re just being smooth-tongued. Certainly, if one goes by their actions such as outsourcing immigration control to the North Africans.

Peter Frost said...

A hundred years ago, China was considered backward and unambitious. The past is not always a guide to the future ... or even the present.

Most people don't have clearly defined private thoughts. Even when they do, what is the value of an opinion that is never spoken or acted upon? You sound like the first commenter: I should keep silent on certain issues in order to win friends and influence people. Presumably, once I'm liked by everybody I can then turn around and tell them what I really think.

If Western politicians are really serious about outsourcing immigration control to the North Africans, what was the point in overthrowing Gaddafi? That move blew a massive hole in the dike.