Italy turns right, alarming the E.U.
Giorgia Meloni is poised to be Italy’s first far-right nationalist leader since Mussolini after a right-wing coalition led by her post-Fascist party, the Brothers of Italy, dominated national elections.
The victory, which would make her the country’s first female prime minister, sent a tremor through Washington and across Europe, where the establishment is worried about a new rightward tilt. The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, with high national debt and rocketing inflation, has deeply damaged centrist parties across the continent.
The appeal of nationalists and populists remains strong and is spreading. This month in Sweden, once a bastion of liberal Nordic politics, the far-right Sweden Democrats became the second-largest party, and the largest in what is expected to be a right-wing coalition.
Now Italy has also turned away from the European mainstream. If Meloni joins the populist, Euroskeptic leaders of Hungary and Poland inside the E.U., she could further undermine the bloc’s consensus. One analyst said that such a development would be “Brussels’s nightmare.”
The war: Meloni has supported Ukraine in the war against Russia. But Italian popular opinion is traditionally sympathetic toward Moscow. If economic costs rise, she may take a different approach from her pro-NATO predecessor, Mario Draghi.
The admission came amid growing domestic opposition to the “partial mobilization” that was announced by Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. Last week, the country’s defense minister pledged that only men with military experience and specialization would be called up. There have been numerous reports of people who have never served in the military receiving orders.
In a sign of growing frustration, a gunman, apparently distraught over the chaotic mobilization, opened fire at a draft office in Siberia yesterday, seriously wounding a recruitment officer. The authorities arrested a suspect, who is in his mid-20s. His mother told a local news outlet that his close friend had received a draft summons despite having never served in the military.
Context: The shooting came after protests against forced conscription and rumors that the authorities could close Russia’s borders. An estimated 261,000 men fled Russia between Wednesday and Saturday, according to the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Fighting: The fierce battle for the critical Donbas region is now centered on two strategically important cities: Lyman and Bakhmut.
In other Russia news:
The global economy slows
Markets around the world tumbled yesterday and the S&P 500 dropped to its lowest level of 2022 as panic mounted that the global economy was going to take a hit.
The global economy is still fighting to recover from the pandemic and cope with war. A new forecast showed that it was slowing more than expected, prompting one official to say that “the world is paying a very heavy price” for Russia’s invasion.
But countries are also reacting to U.S. policymakers’ decision to fight soaring domestic inflation with aggressive interest rate hikes, which have pumped up the value of the dollar — the go-to currency for much of the world’s trade and transactions. The policy has caused economic turmoil and profound pain across the world, pushing up prices, ballooning the size of debt payments and increasing the risk of a deep recession.
Reaction: In Nigeria and Somalia, where the risk of starvation already lurks, the strong dollar is driving up the price of imported food, fuel and medicine. It is also nudging debt-ridden Argentina, Egypt and Kenya closer to default and threatening to discourage foreign investment in India and South Korea.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
Four years ago, 12 boys and their coach were trapped in a cave in one of Thailand’s national parks. Now, as new blockbuster movies detail the dramatic rescue, the park is preparing for a tourism onslaught.
“I never expected it to change this much,” the chief of a nearby village said. “Even our own people in neighboring districts didn’t know about the cave.”
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
Eric Cantona, soccer’s biggest maverick, is sounding off: “Sheep” soccer players, David Beckham’s Qatar backing, wars — nothing is off the table in this discussion with an all-time soccer legend.
France’s worrying World Cup preparations: The mood in French soccer is bleak, with relentless rolling scandals that are constantly distracting from everyday talking points like tactics and team selections.
Inside Graham Potter’s Chelsea rebuild: Potter will need all of his new players engaged not just to navigate the relentless schedule, but to build serious Premier League momentum while rescuing a listless Champions League group-stage campaign. Relaxed player meetings, open environments are a start.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The new India
Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, has made his country indispensable to addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including diplomacy and climate change; technology and trade; and China’s dominance in the supply chain.
But while Modi rides India’s credentials as the world’s largest democracy, his government is undertaking a project to imprint a majoritarian Hindu ideology on India’s secular democracy. Modi and his party are stifling dissent and consolidating power, sidelining civilian institutions and marginalizing minority groups, particularly India’s 200 million Muslims.
The question is whether India can remain an engine for global growth while its government stokes cycles of extremism and volatility at home.