Juncker to avoid another Greek blunder 

Juncker to avoid another Greek blunder 

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has told the new government in Italy that the EU and “German-speaking countries” must not repeat the error they made during the Greek crisis.

He said he was determined not to feed the populist narrative that Brussels was meddling in domestic affairs.

Juncker said the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and nationalist Lega had both recently dropped their intention of leaving the European Union. He added that he would judge them on their action and not their campaign promises.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, 45, was sworn in on Friday preventing the need for another election in the eurozone’s third-largest economy.

Conte attended a bombastic military parade commemorating the founding of the Italian republic, while his deputy Matteo Salvini, Lega head and an ally of French Front National leader Marine Le Pen, travelled to Sicily in his campaign against illegal immigration.

Founded in 1991 as Lega Nord, or Northern League, the regionalist separatists campaigned for an autonomous “Padania” in the north while occasionally indulging in anti-immigrant populism. It has joined government coalitions on several occasions.

“The free ride is over,” Salvini, the new interior minister, warned migrants. “It’s time to pack your bags.”

The pledge of mass deportations comes as Conte, a law scholar plucked from obscurity to head the uneasy alliance, said the celebrations marking 72 years of the Italian republic on Saturday transcended all the recent tensions.

The rise of extremist parties in Italy is seen as indicative of Europe-wide trend. 

One study of more than 500 party manifestoes from nearly 70 parties in 17 of Europe’s democracies since 1980 said Europe was moving to the right, as mainstream parties ditched liberal policies for more authoritarian platforms.

“Italy is destroying itself – and dragging down Europe with it,” read the headline of Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, showing a forkful of spaghetti with one dangling strand tied up as a noose.

In Italy, the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) fell below 20 per cent of the vote for the first time since it was formed. Social-democratic, left-of-centre parties have slumped to single digits in France, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, while in Germany the SPD received its lowest vote share since 1933, and their counterpart in Austria slumped to its lowest number of seats in the post-war era.




The Italian republic has marked 72 years since its founding. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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