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Yearbook 2018

2018 ItalyItaly. The parliamentary elections that took place in the spring dramatically changed Italy's political landscape. More than anywhere else in Europe, the trend of traditional parties being pushed back in favor of populist forces became true. The former government party, the Social Democratic Democratic Party (PD) suffered a stinging defeat and the election was also a setback for Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing party Forza Italia (Heja Italy).

According to Countryaah.com, the big winner was the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) created by comedian Beppe Grillo, and now led by Luigi Di Maio, a 31-year-old with no great experience in politics or professional work. The other populist winning party became La Lega under leader Matteo Salvini, a professional politician who soon emerged as Italy's strong man, not least as the party's opinion figures have increased dramatically since the election to the detriment of the coalition partner Five Star Movement.

2018 Italy

The dispute between the two over the post of prime minister was resolved by the assignment going to the hitherto unknown university lecturer Giuseppe Conte, who has since assumed a near-ceremonial role and who obviously has not had any major power in the government. Instead, power came more and more to Salvini during the year. He has, by virtue of his office as Minister of the Interior, concentrated on the party's core issue: immigration.

Originally the party was called Lega Nord - the Nordic League - and had the separatism between the richer Northern Italy and the poorer Southern Italy, mainly on the program. At the same time as Salvini renamed the party to La La Lega, the political message changed to become nationalist and xenophobic. During the year, Salvini, as Minister of the Interior, took measures against migrants and refugees, which attracted considerable international attention. Among other things, he prevented the large rescue ship Aquarius with more than 600 migrants on board from entering the Italian port. The ship was eventually received by Spain. The popular resistance to migration was mainly aroused during the dramatic year 2015, when about 600,000 migrants applied to Italy.

During the autumn, the government presented a budget proposal that led to strained relations with the European Commission. The proposed budget was rejected in Brussels, where fears were raised about a government-financed bankruptcy in the eurozone's third-largest economy. The concern arose in the light of Italy's gigantic government debt, which, according to the European Commission, is incompatible with the Italian government's expansive spending plans, which were based on a combination of tax cuts and expensive social investment.

The European Commission, despite its concerns, proceeded with caution and reached a temporary compromise with Italy on a slightly revised budget. No drastic changes needed to be made in a budget that included, among other things, flat tax for the rich, citizen pay for the poor and reduced retirement age for all. Both Brussels and Rome looked ahead to the 2019 elections to the European Parliament. From the EU point of view, perhaps with the budget compromise, they would avoid appearing as a scapegoat, if the generous pledges of the government parties to Italy's voters had been drastically cut.

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