The Weekly Dispatch - 17 July 2022
An Italian polling update, Borne survives the censure motion, the Extremes remove COVID-19 Protections, and Croatia is cleared to join the Eurozone.
The Weekly Dispatch is your weekly summary of the major events taking place in French and and European politics, published on Sundays in order to give you the perfect way to catch up with current affairs.
We’re heading to Italy for the weekly Polling update, following the mid-week drama that led to the resignation but-not-really of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Currently, the front runners in the polls are Fratteli d’Italia (23%), the national-conservative, right-wing populist party in Italy led by Giorgia Meloni, a former minister under Silvio Berlusconi. They are followed closely by the Partito Democratico (22.3%), the social-democratic party led by former Prime Minister Enrico Letta and which once upon a time included Mattel Renzi.
Following them are the Lega Nord (16.0%) led by everybody’s favourite right-wing nationalist populist, Matteo Salvini, Movimento 5 Stelle at (12.54%), and Forza Italia (7.1%), the party of Berlusconi and Commissioner Tajani.
As you eagle eyed readers of mine will have undoubtedly noticed, there’s no Liberal party (yellow) that has taken a strong lead in Italy, with EU Federalist Party +Europa (4.3%) and pro-European republican party Italia Viva (2.3%) barely putting together 6.6% out of the total voter share, and you would be right.
This is one of the reasons, for example, that Italia Viva politician, Sandro Gozi, found himself running for election under La Republique en Marche and currently sits as an MEP for Emmanuel Macron’s party.
There are two general spheres of power within Italian politics: the Partito Democratico, and the left wing coalition that can form around it, and the right wing coalition that was initially formed under Berlusconi, and which has always been a powerful entity.
However, two events undermined this coalition: firstly, smelling the possibility to take power, Matteo Renzi decided to abandon the coalition and go into coalition with M5S without his right-wing partners.
Secondly, the focus of the ongoing crisis: The government of national unity under Prime Minister Draghi, which brought together representatives of every party and caused friction across the board over a prolonged period of time, as everyone involved attempted to temper their political instincts, work together, and get Italy out of the COVID-19 crisis.
And what happened next will be the focus of an upcoming dispatch so stay tuned!
The Censure Motion Fails
La France Insoumise promised the end of the Borne II government, and then managed to drop everything as unceremoniously as possible, failing to collect the support required to achieve their goals, and unwittingly giving the government a boost.
In the lead up to the vote, the LFI Group President, Mathilde Panot, stated that “the moment of truth has come. This motion of no confidence will serve as a political clarification” of who supported the government and didn’t.
And while this is clearly not the case, if it were, it would be very bad news for both the NUPES and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s party.
Out of the 151 NUPES coalition members, only 146 deputies voted for the censure motion aimed at bringing down the Borne II Government, with six of the Parti Socialist MP refusing to take part in the motion, and forming part of the 431 deputies who refused to take part in this censure motion.
During the debate, Elisabeth Borne was understandably unimpressed by the censure motion, and prior to the result, had made her sentiments clear:
“Today, ladies and gentlemen, we could be acting for the French people. Instead, we are debating a motion of censure stitched together with a trial of intent, which obstructs parliamentary work and therefore the will of the French people "
And a lot of this underlined exactly how the government reacted to the results of the vote, with the Prime Minister’s reaction being that “It was no surprise. The NUPES wanted to be counted...now we get to work.”
The reality of this situation, however, is that this is not going to be a case of a one-and-done attempt on the government, but the beginning of a prolonged siege on the government where the far-left will continue to attempt to chip away at the government, attempting to unite coalitions on key legislation to attack them.
However, the flip-side of this is that this strategy could gradually trip away at their own position, chipping away MPs who are a part of their group who may find themselves cornered or trapped by political decisions that may render their political positions compromised, all in Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s goal of replacing Emmanuel Macron.
The Extremes Remove COVID Protections
There was some bad news coming from the Assemblée nationale, where the far-left and far-right joined forces to limit the reach of the government’s COVID-19 passes in France.
The big victory of this coalition of extremes? Stopping the government from being able to put in place controls on the national borders for those entering or leaving the country, as part of the national defence against the COVID-19 pandemic.
While there are arguments that can be understood against certain elements of the COVID-19 response, and some that many of us may even agree with outside of the main surge of the COVID-19 Pandemic, there is an issue with potentially hamstringing a country and preventing it from defending itself.
There have been several questions raised as well, with La France Insoumise having claimed that the Presidential Majority had voted with the far-right in several secret ballots, and yet openly voting with and applauding their far-right counterparts in this series of votes, which was only a partial rejection of the overall bill to extend COVID-19 regulations for another six-months.
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Croatia Cleared to adopt the Euro
We have some excellent news on the European front to ap off the week, with Croatia having cleared the final hurdle for adoption the Euro.
With the process having continued in relatively good time, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs had placed the cherry on top of the cake, adopting the final three legal acts that would enable Croatia to introduce the euro as their legal currency.
Zbyněk Stanjura, Minister of Finance of Czechia, had this to say about the event:
I would like to congratulate my counterpart, Zdravko Marić, and the whole of Croatia for becoming the 20th country to join the euro area. Adopting the euro is not a race, but a responsible political decision. Croatia has successfully completed all the required economic criteria and they will pay in euros as of 1 January 2023.
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