Home » Will Putin-inspired pacifism erode the Italian left’s Atlanticism?

Will Putin-inspired pacifism erode the Italian left’s Atlanticism?

CGIL pacifists
© Leonardo Filippi
The Democratic Party is slated for a leadership change that might reduce the party’s Atlanticist tilt due to internal turmoil and pressures from the NATO-wary areas of the Italian left – which, in turn, are being exploited by Giuseppe Conte’s Five Star Movement

Woes on the left. The Democratic Party lost a significant share of seats in Parliament. That prompted its leader Enrico Letta to announce his resignation and kick off a period of soul-searching to redefine the party’s purpose along with its head.

  • He will let his mandate expire and refrain from running at the next party congress in March but will stay on until then (read Decode39’s article on the two frontrunners to replace him).

Away from the Atlantic? Mr Letta was a mainstay of the party’s Atlanticism, which means his departure – and the DP’s possible shifts – bring into question the party’s international positioning. That’s especially problematic given the pro-Russian streak that’s been colouring several areas of the Italian left.

  • One of the latest examples: an overtly pro-Russian, anti-US placard at Saturday’s annual demonstration of the country’s biggest labour union (at the top of the page).

The mediatic pressure. Along with media heavyweights such as Massimo Giannini, director of La Stampa, influential journalists such as Milena Gabanelli and Riccardo Iacona are now calling on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to refrain from “escalating” the conflict (presumably because of the Kerch Bridge strike) and work towards peace. As if defending the territorial integrity of Ukraine contrasts with these objectives.

Meanwhile, Giuseppe Conte’s on a roll. The Five Star Movement leader seems bent on conquering the DP and its surrounding ecosystem – including labour unions and intellectuals – by exploiting the narrative of pacifism and apparent parallels with the Church.

  • Speaking to Avvenire, Mr Conte sought to align himself with Pope Francis’ call for peace on Sunday. He then called for a “mobilisation for peace,” adding that “the obsession with a hypothetical military victory over Russia […] is not worth the risk of escalation – with an insane use of nuclear warheads and unconventional weapons – as well as the risk of a severe economic recession.”

The expert’s take. According to Professor Massimiliano Panarari (a teacher at Mercatorum University as well as a sociologist and political scientist who is well acquainted with the 5SM’s dynamics), Mr Conte “understands there is a political space to be conquered on the left.”

  • He told our sister website that space is composed of “all those who harbour anti-Western and anti-NATO sentiments.” It’s “an important slice of the electorate that was historically included in the ranks of the Communist Party, but no longer finds itself in [Mr] Letta’s DP. And Conte is turning precisely to them.”
  • “The 5 Star Movement is making itself [into] an interpreter, as it has done in the past, of this protesting newness. The war between Russia and Ukraine is an issue that catalyses all this malaise under the veil of pacifism.

Image: Leonardo Filippi, via Twitter

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