A conservative columnist calls Italy’s Prime Minister a populist, after Matteo Renzi said he would veto the budget of the European Union if east European countries continue to refuse to host their share of refugees.
Italy is unable to keep its budget deficit under the required 2 per cent because of unplanned spending caused by earthquakes and the flood of refugees across the Mediterranean. In a first statement on Monday, the Prime Minister urged the European Union to extend an extraordinary budget of 3.9 billion Euros to Italy, otherwise he would veto the EU budget. Two days later he said east European countries were developing thanks to European subsidies and he would veto those funds for the next period (from 2021 to 2027) unless these countries agree to accept their share of refugees. (Budget decisions are usually taken by unanimous vote, but a qualified majority would be sufficient under the Lisbon Treaty.)
In Magyar Nemzet, István Pataky describes Mr Renzi’s sudden activism as a desperate attempt to rescue himself, ahead of the referendum scheduled for December 4 on his constitutional reforms. As Italy’s standing slowly deteriorates and he is unable to shore up its economy, Pataky explains, the referendum is becoming a plebiscite on Mr Renzi himself. He may have repeated the mistake of former British PM David Cameron, who had to resign as a result of the Brexit referendum which he himself initiated. Mr Renzi’s problems are fully understandable, but to suggest that they have anything to do with east European countries is pure demagoguery, the commentator suggests. Nevertheless, world leaders who otherwise like to castigate their critics by calling them populists, are not grumbling this time about Mr Renzi’s populism because they consider his main rival, the Five Star Movement protest party, even more populist, Pataky concludes.