Why Italians suddenly hate Macron
Italy’s governing coalition has created a new bogeyman, said Stefan Ulrich. For this May’s European Parliament elections, our two ruling parties have decided to run not against each other but against French President Emmanuel Macron, “relying on the time-honored populist trick of creating an external enemy to secure votes.” France is the perfect foil, because Italians already “suspect that the French see them as poor cousins who can’t be taken seriously.” They fume that the French buy Italian companies while protecting their own firms from takeovers. So Italy’s two deputy prime ministers, Matteo Salvini of the nationalist League and Luigi Di Maio of the left-ish Five Star Movement, have been ripping into Macron, mocking him as ineffective and blaming him for pursuing a “colonial policy” in Africa that has caused a migrant crisis. In truth, they hate Macron because he “wants to strengthen Europe and introduce structural reforms in his country.” Salvini and Di Maio, meanwhile, “want to weaken Europe to the advantage of the nation-states,” and they are dismantling past Italian reforms and doling out money to their constituents. The French and Italian governments “thus stand for the two major forces that are locked in a battle for citizens’ souls: the liberal European movement and the authoritarian nationalist one.” Which will prevail in Europe?