As we wait for a Brexit deal or no deal, we discuss what the next year might hold for French and Italian politics. What are Macron's prospects as he heads towards the next presidential election? Has Giorgia Meloni replaced Matteo Salvini as the leader of the Italian far right? And what chance of a return to political normalcy in either country? With Lucia Rubinelli and Chris Bickerton.
The Italian public is fed up with Brexit—there isn’t much public debate about it.
- Salvini is still playing with the idea that leaving the EU is a good idea, but not as seriously now.
- All the signals from the government suggest that Italy is lining up with Macron, but they aren’t trying to play a central role.
There are particular issues that affect different member states. The broader European unity is now being tested on certain key issues.
- The Irish are particularly affected by no deal.
- For France, the most important issue is probably the level playing field. Fishing also has a powerful symbolic element to it.
- It may come down to member states being willing to make compromises with each other, or not.
Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus and the first to lockdown. The response created a sense of pride.
- During summer, however, life went back to normal. It was basically a free-for-all.
- When cases began to climb again, the mood turned to frustration: frustration at the relationship between governments and regions, and frustration with certain policies, such as the closure of high schools.
- There is also the sense that Italy is lagging behind on the vaccine.
Macron also went in earlier on lockdown, and came out of lockdown earlier too.
- The idea that Macron has authoritarian tendencies has become part of the debate over COVID. There has been an almost permanent sense of emergency stretching from the yellow vest period to today.
- COVID has blurred into a border debate about the balance between security and civil liberties in France.
Mentioned in this Episode:
- Our last episode with Lucia
- More on Johnson’s dinner with von der Leyen
- Why is fishing important in the Brexit trade talks?
- More on Article 24 in France
- A profile of Giorgia Meloni from Politico Europe
- More on France’s Green Party
And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking
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