Road to EU 2024

European Elections 2024, the Right-Wing Gap. The Crucial Role of Liberal-Democratic Forces

April 2023
By Gianni Pittella

President Casini may be right when he says that “in politics, legacy is not received, it is taken. A young lady has arrived and has taken Silvio Berlusconi’s legacy: today’s right-wing is Giorgia Meloni”. At least in terms of electoral consensus and political leadership of the right-wing, Casini is right. And this is true for today and the months to come.

However, there are doubts whether this is a matter of cultural, value-based, strategic, in short, political legacy in the fullest sense. The 2024 European elections may already represent a first element of political dissonance, both in terms of the concrete organization of the electoral offer and in terms of supranational positioning.

Let’s start with two facts. First, in the European elections, the proportional representation system is used, with a threshold of exclusion modest enough to induce Forza Italia to run as an alternative to Fratelli d’Italia without too much risk. Second, Fratelli d’Italia and Forza Italia belong to two different Parliamentary Groups, ECR and EPP.

The ECR was founded in 2009 from a splinter of the EPP, from the meeting between the British Conservatives (who are no longer in the assembly due to Brexit) and the Polish Law and Justice party (that of Kaczynski), to which today the deputies of Fratelli d’Italia, representing its core, have joined.

If we look at the ECR website’s political features of the parliamentary group, we find four key elements: national conservatism, Euroscepticism, nationalism, and economic liberalism. Now, if the last element is certainly in line with the ideological heritage of Forza Italia, the rest are not!!

And if we read the recent statements of President Berlusconi at a convention of young EPP members, the distance seems vast: “Our Europe is liberal and Christian, it is the Europe of federalism and subsidiarity, of freedom of initiative and responsibility towards those who need help. We from the European People’s Party and Yepp want the United States of Europe, with a real president, a real government, a real Parliament, and finally a real and unique foreign policy and a real and unique defense policy”.

Anything can happen in politics, but it seems difficult to overlap a federalist project with a strictly nationalist and Eurosceptic one. So, what can happen in the 2024 elections? A likely scenario is that Fratelli d’Italia and Forza Italia run separately and then, within the European institutions, do not unify between ECR and EPP but form a sort of privileged axis to influence configurations. However, I do not believe that alone they will be enough to ensure a majority of seats in Parliament and perhaps not even in the Council.

In any case, it would be a politically contradictory alliance and weak in terms of European momentum. This is why the role of those components explicitly Europeanist, liberal-democratic, socialist, and environmentalist will be decisive, which can compensate and rebalance the axis between the popular and conservative forces.