A year of government, between lights and shadows

In recent weeks, there has been a constant ringing of judgements on the first year of government. Not everyone has remembered that shortly before the 2022 elections many were predicting a victory for the centre-right but a transitional government, which would set the scene for an alternative and more “promising” majority. Instead, Meloni has surprised everyone with her government. Indeed, on a political level, her establishment has been able to withstand major tests, from the Delmastro case to the Santanché case, up to the Cutro tragedy and the negotiations with the European Commission for the Pnrr instalments. The government has been able to demonstrate compactness and cohesion even under fire from media attacks and at times when consensus has been put to the test. It has also succeeded in progressively shifting its orientation from a more “Draghi” line, the one of the beginning of the legislature, to a more sovereigntist one, in line with the expectations of its electorate. In this sense, the Dl Asset was a bit of a “manifesto” of the change of direction towards the so-called “strong powers”, first and foremost the banks, which are now promising a battle for the taxation of extra-profits.

On economic level, the results are not particularly comforting. The only justification, to tell the truth, is the crisis that has been reverberating internationally for the past year. A crisis that has tended to be contained by Italy in its most alarming social effects. But the Italian economy is slowing down, as shown by the updated GDP estimates for 2023 and next year. To finance the measure, EUR 15.7 billion will be used from the widening of the deficit space. The resources are announced to be limited, the government intends to calibrate them on a few measures. While the oppositions are calling for them to be concentrated mainly on the health sector, between contract renewals and infrastructure. On the economy too, the government is moving towards a direction that is more consistent with its political identity, as can be seen from the Nadef, which sets out the key points of the next financial measure: confirmation for 2024 of the cut in the tax wedge for low and medium income earners, support for the birth rate including domestic assistance to new mothers in the first months of babies’ lives, resources for the start of the renewal of public contracts, a cycle of sales of some assets among the subsidiaries. The macro-economic picture is complex, between the war in Ukraine and the central banks’ aggressive monetary policy to quell inflation.

On the foreign policy front, the Meloni government has followed in the furrow left by its predecessor, reaffirming on several occasions Italy’s full support for Ukraine, the country’s focus on Africa, and continuity in relations with Brussels and the US and NATO. In these twelve months, in fact, Meloni and hers have tried to strengthen Italy’s international dimension by avoiding the very conflictuality that for years characterised the political tradition, and in part also the election campaign, of her party. Legitimising herself, then, in the eyes of her European partners was not a banal task, yet Meloni seems to have succeeded to date, showing not only that she wants to be part of the European community but also that she wants to play by its rules. Even when the need was felt to express perplexity or hesitation, as in the case of the renegotiation of the NRRP targets or the reform of the MES regulation, she chose to display a “healthy” realist approach without resorting to harsh or demagogic tones. Nevertheless, there has certainly been no shortage of disagreements with some allies, starting with Emmanuel Macron’s France. Between rifts and mendings, crises and reconciliations, relations between Rome and Paris have gone through a rollercoaster year, especially over disagreements on the management of migratory flows. The same ones that have characterised the recent tensions also with Berlin and that have led the Prime Minister to describe herself as “astonished” by the decision to subsidise NGOs engaged in welcoming irregular migrants on Italian territory and in rescues in the Mediterranean Sea. The issue was the focus of the face-to-face meeting between Meloni and Scholz on the sidelines of the informal European Council held in Granada this morning. The two tried to patch up the recent tensions, expressing satisfaction with the agreement reached in Brussels on the “Crisis and Force Majeure Regulation”. But the topic is still sensitive and the two leaders agreed to meet at the German-Italian intergovernmental summit, to be held in Germany at the end of November, for further discussions on the subject. On the other hand, according to European Council President Charles Michel himself, the immigration is the “most pressing” issue on the international table at the moment. And it is no secret that this represents a success in itself for Giorgia Meloni considering that it was the prime minister herself who pushed for the issue to be put on the summit agenda.