In the contest of the European elections in May, in order to reflect on the European and Italian political scene, we decided to interview Giovanni De Mauro, director of Internazionale, one of the most important Italian foreign policy magazine.

G. De Mauro Interview – Director of Italian Magazine Internazionale

– Responses have been altered for the purposes of translation –

Journalist: What are the prospects of a Europe led by anti-Europeans?

De Mauro: It’s hard to say – I don’t know how the European political field will look like after the May elections – nobody knows it for sure. There will be certainly more anti-Europeans elected than in years past. However, I don’t think that if these should have the majority they will dissolve the European Union. I think instead that they will take control of it, turning it into a kind of “fort”. They will surely tighten immigration policies and maybe infringe upon civil right laws. Therefore, I think that the prospects of a Europe led by sovereign and eurosceptic parties are gloomy. It’s also true, however, that the left-wing parties that call themselves pro-Europe are in crisis, because, especially over the last few years, they didn’t properly identify and address the problems facing Europe.

J: So, in case of a victory for these parties, the values that have previously characterized the European Union would be at risk of disappearing?

D.M.: More than anything else, I fear that new values will be put in place, those of these populist movements, those that don’t reflect the founding values of Europe.

J.: What does the political field look like in other European countries?

D.M.: With very few exceptions, it seems to me that the political prospects in other European nations don’t look too positive. I think, for example, of the Hungarian situation.There seems to be a general confusion among European people, and for this reason the countries can’t project themselves into the future.

J.: Considering the uprising of the “Gilet Jaunes”, how do you judge a situation like that in France?

D.M.: What is happening in France is an interesting but complex phenomenon. It’s clear that the populist movements exploit a shared discontent that must be addressed. Europe is certainly a continent that has faced various challenges throughout history, in part a result of the myopia of various European institutions. The Gilet Jaunes have been born as a reaction to all this, born of discontent, particularly that belonging to the middle and lower classes in a well-developed country like France. Also, for this reason, I don’t particularly agree with Macron’s political campaigns. Too often he has shown an inability to listen the workers and the poor. This is unfortunately a common trait of most left-wing parties in Europe: in the last 10-15 years they have moved more and more to the center.

J.: In your opinion, what is the opinion of the main foreign powers concerning the arrival of the anti-Europeanism?

D.M.: Surely to Trump, a populist Europe would be convenient. A divided Europe can only benefit him. As for China, I think this is not the case. By now, the nation is so powerful that it can prosper without European influence. Russia, however, is another matter. From an economical point of view, it is not strong. Its power lies more with the media, and for this reason it is more dangerous, because we could witness Russian interference with European political dynamics.  

J.: Will relationships between U.S.A. and Europe change with an influx of populist European officials and/or a lasting Trumpian government in the States?

D.M.: I don’t think so honestly. Their economic relationships are so strong that, in my opinion, their alliance will not deteriorate too fast.

J.: Could populism spread to the Visegrad countries?

D.M.: It depends – if the majority of the European parliament is to be composed by populist parties, the movement’s influence could infiltrate these nations.

J.: What is the opinion of foreign newspapers concerning Italy?

D.M.: Foreign newspapers tend to examine Italian politics and compare it with that of their country. The Gilet Jaunes, for example, have been compared with the Five Stars Movement, though I don’t agree with this comparison, because the former is not a political party. The opinions concerning Italy’s politics, however, vary among different European countries, each of them coming from their own country’s particular perspectives.

J.: Do you think the European Union can treat Brexit as an opportunity, considering that some believed the U.K.’s participation in the EU to be an obstacle for full European integration?

D.M.: On the contrary, I consider Brexit a dangerous misstep for Europe and wake up call. The lack of the U.K.’s full participation in the E.U. was a European failure, and prompts an even greater need for cross-continent integration.

J.: And in Germany, how is the situation developing?

D.M.: I have the impression of a lack of leadership. This is largely to do with Merkel’s exit. Also, in Germany, the left-wing, especially the SPD, is not so strong.

J.: We would like to ask you, in conclusion, which Italian parties you think will win in the May elections?
D.M.: It’s difficult to say five months prior, but surely there we will see a rise of the League and the Five Stars Movement. Regarding the left-wing, we cannot make a certain prediction at this time. We have to see who will become the secretary of the Democratic Party and which party they will align themselves with. There are also many interesting movement that have been born recently, including “Non una di meno,” or the pan-European Volt and Diem25, to which, in my opinion, we should turn our attention. Rispondi Inoltra.

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