This Week In Europe

Italian Election 2018: Political Programs Compared

There are only few days left to the 4 March general election. Many Italians are still on the fence about their voting choice, while outsiders struggle to understand what are the actual proposals of the main political forces. We analyzed their programs.

Center-Right (Forza Italia, Northern League, Brothers of Italy, Us with Italy)

Starting from fairly different positions on several issues, the coalition leaders Silvio Berlusconi, Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni signed a common program structured in 10 main points, that we summarized in the following themes.

Tax Policy

The center-right’s hobbyhorse is fiscal policy. In particular, they push for introducing the so-called ‘flat tax’, a fixed fiscal rate for all families and enterprises (23% for Forza Italia, 15% for the Northern League), instead of the current system of different income tax rates. Another evergreen proposal is the repeal of various tributes, such as the housing and the inheritance taxes, to trigger public and private investments. However, many doubts on the possible financial cover remain.

Labour

The coalition parties want to increase the statuatory minimum pension. In addition, they promised to abolish (Northern League) or revise (Forza Italia) the Fornero reform introduced in 2012 by the Monti government amid ferocious protests. This law increased the pension age and lowered the guaranteed social scurity benefits, to limit the state’s pension expenditure. Moreover, the proposal of a ‘great support plan’ for needy citizens aims at achieving the definitive eradication of poverty.

Europe

The new balance of power within the center-right shifted the alliance, once dominated by the moderates, towards more eurosceptic positions. Indeed, the Northern League historically wanted to leave the European Union and reintroduce a sovereign currency, despite the recent indecision on the issue. On the contrary, Berlusconi remarked that it is crucial to respect the EU’s deficit ceiling of 3%. This is the main divergence between the two souls of the coalition, hidden under the common slogan ‘less austerity’.

Immigration and security

The center-right stance on migration is clearer, as all parties agree on stricter border controls and on stopping migrant landings through new agreements concluded with the countries of origin and forced repatriation. The possibility of a generic ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa is also mentioned in the program. In terms of security, the internal debate is centered on the principle that self-defence is always legitimate, even through the use of guns.

Politics and civil rights

Following the cleavage of the previous center-right governments, the Northern League pushes for greater autonomy of regions and local autonomies, while Brothers of Italy wants to grant Rome more extraordinary powers. Family is the only point explicitly mentioned among principles and rights, as the ‘first and foremost social core’.

Silvio Berlusconi, leader of Forza Italia and former Prime Minister

Center-Left (Democratic Party, +Europa, Together, Civica Popolare Lorenzin)

The center-left coalition is led by the Democratic Party, allied with the pro-European party +Europa and other minor forces across the moderate political spectrum. Matteo Renzi has been bleeding approval ratings, therefore the name of the coalition candidate for the Premiership is still unknown.

Tax Policy

The alliance wants to promote tax relief measures for families with children under the quip ‘cutting taxes to the families, not to the billionaires’. Indeed, the Democratic Party pledges to give families 400 euros a month per child. Among other proposals, both Renzi’s party and +Europa agree on the cut of Ires, the corporate tax, from 24% to 22% (PD) or 20% (+Europa).

Labour

Labour has always been the core of social democratic party platforms and this round is no exception, especially in terms of objectives. The Democratic Party aims at bringing the unemployment below 9% and youth unemployment below 22% through the cut of social security contributions from 33% to 29%. Contrary to the right, the center-left does not want to eliminate the Fornero reform, but promises to introduce a guaranteed mimimum wage for non-contracted workers.

Europe

The coalition is clearly the most pro-European political force in Italy, given that even one of the parties took the word ‘Europe’ as its name. All forces make explicit reference to the political and the social dimension of Europe, proposing the generic idealistic objective of forming the ‘United States of Europe’, starting with the direct election of the European Commission President. The European chapter of the program can be summed up in the motto ‘less austerity, more politics’.

Immigration and security

The main objective is the suppression of the Dublin Regulation, determining that landing countries should be responsible for asylum application, by blocking funds for countries who refuse to take migrants in. On the contrary, the coalition insists on the need for structured investments in Africa (through the relaunch of the Democratic Party’s ‘Migration Compact’ proposal) and for the application of the ‘SPAR’ system for the protection of asylum seekers and refugees (+Europa). Last but not least, all parties agree on the abolition of the Bossi-Fini law introducing penal sanctions to irregular migrants.

Politics and civil rights

The center-left wants to accomplish the promulgation of the so-called ‘moderate ius soli‘, allowing regular migrants’ children that are born and grown in Italy to obtain the citizenship more easily. Civil rights are +Europa’s pet-subject, as they suggest the introduction of laws allowing full-recognition of same-sex marriage, euthanasia and use of soft drugs.

Matteo Renzi, Secretary of the Democratic Party and former Prime Minister

Five Star Movement

According to the polls, the Five Star Movement should be the first party in Italy. However, holding firm to their anti-establishment nature, they decided not to form any pre-electoral alliance. Luigi Di Maio, the official candidate for the Premiership, declared that they will form a government with other political forces exclusively on the basis of their electoral program.

Tax Policy

The mantra is tax reduction, transparency and fight against evasion. Among the proposals, the Five Star Movement wants to reduce the tax wedge to encourage employment and to cut the income tax. Another measure proposed is to switch burden of proof for tax evasion from the citizen to the state. Finally, the party led by Di Maio promised to distribute 17 billions to families with kids and to introduce the French fiscal model, based on tax relief measures and more welfare for these households.

Labour

The Five Star Movement’s Labour policy is centered on the introduction of an unconditional basic income, remaining extremely vague on the enormous financial cover needed. Apart from that, the proposed abolition of 400 laws aims at weakening the suffocating Italian red tape and at triggering the economic growth. Finally, Di Maio pledged to ensure a higher minimum pension (780 euros) and to introduce the retirement pension after 41 years of contributions.

Europe

The party has always maintained an ambiguous stance on Europe, alternating ferocious criticism towards Brussles and the promise of a future referendum on the membership, to calls for common reform of treaties and financial rules from the inside. Moreover, the European diplomatic moves should focus on forging an ‘alliance of the Mediterranean countries’ intended to fight the austerity policies imposed by Northern member states.

Immigration and security

Similarly to what the center-left brings forward, the program of the Movement proposes to abolish the Dublin Regulation system and to distribute the asylum seekers among the EU countries. However, the party is closer to right-wing positions on border controls, suggesting a generic ‘stop to the migration business’, the repatriation of irregulars and the recruitment of 10.000 additional security forces.

Politics and civil rights

Similarly to the center-right, the Five Star Movement program does not present explicit references to civil rights policies. In terms of structural reforms, the foremost objective pursued by the party since its foundation is to make cuts of 50 billions to the costs of politics.

Beppe Grillo, founder of the Five Star Movement

Free and Equal

Free and Equal is the youngest political force taking part in the upcoming election. Founded in December 2017, it is a left-wing alliance of parties, including those politicians who split up from the Democratic Party due to repeated strong disagreements with the Secretary, Matteo Renzi. The leader and candidate Prime Minister is the incumbent President of the Senate, Pietro Grasso.

Tax Policy

The proposal of the complete abolition of tuition fees had a great media impact in Italy, together with the generic objective of investing more in the university and reserach systems. On the contrary, Liberi e Uguali (Free and Equal) plans to introduce the so-called Tobin Tax on financial transactions and big companies’ profits, and tax reductions for lower income earners, starting with the taxable amount for Irpef, the income tax.

Labour

Primary objective of the party’s labour policy is to scrap the Jobs Act labour reform, brought forward by Renzi to make the labour market more flexible and fight unemployment. Indeed, worker protection remains one of the sensitive subjects for the left and, for LeU, the new forms of contract introduced by the Jobs Act would facilitate worker exploitation and dimissal. In addition, Free and Equal pledges the launch of a ‘Green New Deal’, the purpose of which is triggering employment through the environmental conversion of the economy.

Europe

The party describes its vision of the European project by stating that ‘multilateralism and cooperation should be the bearings for Italy and Europe in a World marked by conflicts, terrorism and migration’. LeU aims at fighting Brussels’ technocracy and austerity undermining the current intergovernmental dimension of the EU, by giving more powers to the European Parliament.

Immigration and security

The program does not have a chapter on security, but one of the proposals puts forward a significant cut in military spending, while investing on international cooperation and solidarity is considered a priority. In terms of migration, similarly to the center-left, Free and Equal plans to a abolish the Bossi-Fini law and to introduce the ‘SPAR’ system for the protection of asylum seekers and refugees.

Politics and civil rights

Free and Equal is in favour of same-sex marriage and adoption. They also want to introduce the so-called moderate ius-soli, allowing migrants’ children to obtain the citizenship more easily. Another proposed reform aims at speeding-up the justice system to have ‘fair sentences and legal certainty on the compensation and rehabilitation effects of conviction’.

Pietro Grasso, incumbent President of the Senate
 ‘Italian Election 2018: Political Programs Compared’, original article written by Riccardo Venturi for Italics Magazine on February 28th, 2018. https://italicsmag.com/2018/02/28/italy-election-2018-political-programs-compared/
Riccardo Venturi
Riccardo is an Italian editor, copywriter and communication professional with work experience in media outlets, international organisations, think tanks and multinational companies, such as Google. Besides that, he is a shutterbug and a Thursday night amateur football player. He is the founder and the Managing Director of Italics Magazine.
http://italicsmag.com

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