The far-right leader Giorgia Meloni took the reins of the Italian government at a particularly difficult time, with inflation and global uncertainty weighing heavily on the economy of the peninsula already riddled with debt.
Here are the main challenges facing the leader of the post-fascist party Fratelli d’Italia (FdI) and its allies at the moment of assuming the leadership of the third economy of the euro zone.
Inflation increased by 8.9% over the year in September, fueled by rising food prices (+11.4%) and energy (+44.5%), which penalized households and enterprises.
If many countries are facing similar problems, the pressures exerted on Italy are at risk of entering a technological recession next year, alongside Germany, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The outgoing government of Mario Draghi has already set aside 66 billion euros to help families and businesses face energy prices, using more important tax revenues than planned.
The principal syndicate of employers, Confindustria, requested 40 to 50 milliards d’euros supplémentaires to prevent the bankruptcy of thousands of companies.
Matteo Salvini, head of the far-right party of the Ligue and one of Meloni’s allies within the government, has been pressing since months for extra spending to help businesses.
But Mme Meloni s’effort de rassurer les investisseurs en affirmant qu’elle ne fera pas exploser le budget d’un pays longtemps miné par une croissance et une productivity faibles.
Italy has a colossal debt of more than 2,700 billion euros, or about 150% of its gross domestic product (GDP), the highest ratio in the euro zone after Greece.
Under the direction of the former head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, the economy has recovered with a strong growth after the collapse caused by the coronavirus in 2020.
The government is expecting a public deficit of 5.1% of GDP this year, against 7.2% in 2021, to fall to 3.4% next year, according to forecasts published on October 5.
This should fall to 145.4% of GDP, against 150.3% in 2021, but analysts estimate that the tax reduction plan and spending promises accepted by Mme Meloni’s coalition risk derailing these projects .
Garder le chauffage
L’Italie a été particulier touchée par la crise énergétique en raison de sa dépendance aux importations de gas.
Before the war in Ukraine, Italy imported 95% of the gas it consumes, including 40% from Russia. Ce chiffre est tombé à environ 10% depuis que M. Draghi signed contracts increasing the volume of gas from other producers, all while accelerating the transition to renewable energies.
The Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, declared in mid-October that Italian stocks were full and that “nous devrions avoir une saison hivernale calme”.
Il a toutefois prévenu que l’approbation par le prochain gouvernement d’une usine de gazéification à Piombino en Toscane, qui fait actuellement l’objet d’une aposition locale, est essentielle pour maintenir l’approvisionement.
FdI, euroskeptique, has renounced to demand the exit of Italy from the euro, but Mme Meloni has promised to defend the interests of her country in Brussels.
Italy’s future growth depends on approximately 200 billion euros in subsidies and loans granted by the EU as part of its post-pandemic recovery fund.
Ceux-ci dependent à leur tour d’une série de réformes, allant de la justice à la digitization de l’administration publique, qui doivent être mises en œuvre d’ici à 2026.
Mme Meloni’s coalition has promised to review this plan, but she has not commented yet, and as une partie des fonds a déjà été versie, Bruxelles will likely not allow major changes.
War in Ukraine
M. Draghi was a fervent defender of Western sanctions against Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine and Italy, a member of NATO, and also sent arms to Kiev.
Mme Meloni supported this position, even when she was in the opposition, and with her allies she promised to continue to support Ukraine, which would make it more complicated.
M. Salvini criticizes in effect regularly the sanctions against Russia that he judges ineffective and counter-productive while Silvio Berlusconi, whose party Forza Italia is also in the coalition of Mme Meloni, maintains personal relations with Putin since the years and qu’il assure avoir recently “renouées”.