Nicholas Farrell Nicholas Farrell

Reports of the demise of Italian populism are greatly exaggerated

Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini (photo: Getty)

Britain’s newspapers have called the results of the local elections in Italy the death of populism. The Times, for example, grandly proclaims that the Italian elections this week ‘appear to have brought down the curtain on an experiment in anti-establishment politics that inspired populist movements around the world.’ The Guardian, meanwhile, wonders joyfully if what has occurred signals ‘a renaissance’ for the left.

I am sorry to have to ruin the party but yet again the mainstream media have got it wrong.

The fact that the Italian left, whose main component is the post-communist Partito Democratico (PD), retained Milan plus Bologna and Naples, where the left has governed for donkey’s years, is neither here nor there. Nor will it be big news if the left wins in Rome, Turin and Trieste – which go to a second ballot later in October.

The right – led by populists – is ahead after the first round in Rome and Trieste. And the right – led by Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia – won in Calabria which was the only region up for grabs.

What we are seeing in Italy is the death of left-wing populism as manifested by the alt-left Movimento 5 Stelle.

What we are seeing in Italy is the death of left-wing populism

Five Star, as it is called in English, had a disastrous election. In fact, it was virtually wiped out. But it had already been reduced to a vegetative state and remained alive only because of its alliances with sworn enemies.

It was only ever populist in words, never in deeds.

Look at Five Star’s very beautiful Virginia Raggi, who swanned in from nowhere, aged 38, to be elected mayor of Rome in 2016.

Five years later, with wild boar roaming the streets amid the uncollected

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in