Far-right policies see Italy’s democracy ranking plummet

Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini meets the press to give Christmas greetings at Palazzo delle Stelline, in Milan, Italy, 19 December 2018. [Flavio Lo Scalzo/EPA/EFE]

The policies of Italy’s anti-immigrant and anti-establishment government which came to power last June have torpedoed the country’s global democracy ranking, a think tank said Wednesday (9 January).

The country dropped from 21st to 33rd position in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Democracy Index, mainly because of the presence of the far-right League in Italy’s coalition.

In comparison, among EU countries, Sweden is ranked 3rd, Denmark 5th, Ireland 6th, Finland 8th, Netherlands 11th, Luxembourg 12th, Germany 13th, UK 14th, Austria 16th, Malta 18th, Spain 19th, Estonia 23rd, Portugal 27th, France 29th, Belgium 31st.

Romania last

Countries ranked worse than Italy are the Czech Republic 34th, Cyprus 35th, Slovenia and Lithuania both ranked 36th, Latvia 38th, Greece 39th, Slovakia 44th, Bulgaria 46th, Poland 54th, Hungary 57th, Croatia 60th, Romania being last in the EU, ranked 66th.

Among the EU countries, the first ten cited, including Spain, are considered “Full democracy”, while all the others, including Romania, “Flawed democracy”.

“Deep disillusionment with political institutions, including parliament and political parties, fed through into increasing support for ‘strongmen’ who bypass political institutions,” the EIU said in its report about Italy.

While the coalition also includes the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), the report singled out the League’s deputy prime minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for blame.

Salvini “has often used anti-foreigner rhetoric” and supported evictions of members of the minority Roma community from “illegal” houses despite a stop order issued by the European Court of Human Rights, the report said.

UN human rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet in September criticised Italy’s treatment of migrants and minorities.

She slammed those who would build walls against migrants, as well as Salvini’s decision to close Italy’s ports to boats carrying migrants rescued at sea.

Bachelet said she would send a team to Italy to assess what she said was a rise in reported violent and racist attacks on immigrants, people of African origin and Roma.

“All this contributes to the risk of a deterioration in civil liberties,” said the EIU report, which also “considers the extent to which the government invokes new threats as an excuse to curb civil liberties.”

Italy’s parliament in November approved a wide-ranging security decree which limits humanitarian protection for tens of thousands of migrants.

It is among several countries that are opposed to a UN Global Compact on Migration.

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