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Italian Populism: The Dangerous Egotrip of Matteo Renzi


Politics in a selfie age: Matteo Renzi, Italy's former prime minister, is building his own party. In the fight against authoritarian national-radical populists like Matteo Salvini, this is not very helpful.


As the former mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, was still considered a hopefuls, in Italy above all, but also a bit in the rest of Europe, he described himself as "Rottamatore", to German Verschrotter. Renzi wanted to scrap the old Italy, the corruption, the influence of the Casta, that amalgam of politicians, association officials, entrepreneurs, consultants and mafiosi, which for decades prevented Italy from becoming a modern European state.

Now, during his reign, Renzi was quite successful in launching one or the other reform and modernizing the clumsy justice system. But Renzi was successful above all as a scraper of Italian Social Democracy, that Democratic Party whose roots were Eurocommunist and in the second half of the 20th Century reached deep into Italian society.

The party had gradually lost this anchorage, but under Renzi the last contours disappeared. The Democratic Party was just kind of somehow: somehow central, somehow modern - just arbitrary. Benefiting from this, the Lega under the right wing Matteo Salvini and the postmodern civic movement have five stars. When their coalition finally failed, the Democratic Party had another chance.

Then Renzi grabbed the wrecking ball again this week. While the party is trying to renovate itself, Renzi announces the creation of its own party Italia viva, long live Italy. Several deputies and senators of the Democratic Party went to Italia viva - a party of modern type without annoying officials, without brittle program, neither left nor right - all this sounds like Emmanuel Macrons En Marche in France. And that should be it too. Renzi's alleged aim is to prevent from the center of society that Italy falls completely into the hands of right-wing populist Salvini.

Duel Matteo against Matteo

But whether that succeeds with Renzis Egotrip, may be doubted. Roberta Pinotti, Secretary of Defense Renzi, considers the ex-comrade's new political project simply counterproductive. "So we do not turn off the risk that brings a dangerous and anti-European rights to this country," she said a few days ago the Roman newspaper "Repubblica".

But Renzi seems to insist on being able to deliver the rescue of Italian democracy in a kind of duel Matteo against Matteo. And on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook level, with high excitement, but if possible without too complicated content.

But such a populism of the bourgeois center will probably be just as little against the rights as the left-wing populism of Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France or Sahra Wagenknecht in Germany. Wagenknecht's rising movement had already fallen asleep right at the beginning and could not put even the smallest stones in the way of the march of the authoritarian national radical AfD into the middle of East German society.

Although Mélenchon finds some support for his protectionist socialism ideas in France, the right-wing populist of Marine Le Pen has not been able to cut the water. And while Macron led the destruction of the Socialist Party into the Elysée Palace, French society is divided and anti-European rights established.

Certainly middle-left parties in Europe have done a lot wrong in recent years and thus lost their trust in the population. Mention should be made here only of the widespread capitulation to a run-of-the-mill financial market. However, European social democracy, whatever its name, remains an important bulwark against anti-European national-radical populists like Salvini. Self-employed soloists like Renzi should not scrape them lightly.

Source: spiegel

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