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Italian Dems stand by EU ammo act despite leader’s doubts

Elly Schlein
Elly Schlein did not take a clear position on the EU vote to replenish the States’ ammunition stocks, depleted by the war in Ukraine, with common funds. But the party’s MEPs voted in favour anyways – and confirmed their support for Kyiv regardless of her ambiguity

The Democratic Party supported ASAP… On Thursday, most in the PD’s European delegation voted in favour of the Act in Support of Ammunition Production in the European Parliament, which was backed by the vast majority of MEPs. Ten Italian Dems supported it, and four abstained.

  • The act devolves common EU funds to buy ammunition to replenish the States’ stocks, which have been depleted by their support of Ukraine’s resistance against Russia.
  • It also entails boosting the European defence supply chain to ensure said support continues indefinitely and, in parallel, warns Russia that the Western camp will not falter in its support of Kyiv.
  • This is the first time EU countries pool resources to buy ammo – and, more generally, a step towards common European defence.

… despite Elly Schlein’s (lack of) directions. PD MEPs acted in continuity with their stance of all-out support for Ukraine, including through military means. Even though their new leader, Elly Schlein, had not given an official indication to support the measure – as the European delegation took care to highlight.

  • Over the past few days, Ms Schlein also said that using money from the EU-bankrolled National Recovery and Resilience Fund “to produce ammunitions and armaments [would] not be acceptable.”
    • She instructed her MEPs, belonging to the Socialist group in the European Parliament (S&D), to table an amendment to that end. It was voted down by the majority but supported by Italy’s Five Star Movement MEPs – who oppose arming Ukraine altogether.
  • The Dem leader also turned a deaf ear to Lia Quartapelle, an influential PD MP formerly responsible for foreign affairs, who warned her that “abstaining would mean breaking the PD’s unity.”

Strategic ambiguity? Some in the more leftist PD area, which is ideologically adjacent to the 5SM on Ukraine, don’t fully embrace arming the invaded State. And Ms Schlein’s positioning looks like an attempt to pander to them without walking back from her and the party’s wider pro-Ukraine stance.

  • It is, as Il Fatto Quotidiano notes, “a double message: on the one hand, she does not displease the European Socialists, to whom she is firmly anchored [….] On the other hand, she speaks to the many worlds that look to her as an alternative to the current policy of the PD, including its position on the war.”
  • Perhaps such positioning would also be conducive to building an alliance with the 5SM – especially as recent local elections resulted in the left’s defeat almost everywhere.

But backlash ensues. “Since, in democracy, [only] the vote matters in the end, the majority of PD MEPs voted for ASAP and confirmed PD’s support for Ukraine and a finally-European defence. To them, a heartfelt thank you for taking responsibility and keeping the rudder straight,” tweeted Ms Quartapelle in a thinly-veiled jab at Ms Schlein.

  • This reaction, along with the numbers, does show that the PD’s majority has no intention of turning its back on the issue. But does the Dem leader’s ambiguous position mean that cracks are starting to appear?

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