Italy’s democracy ranking plummets due to far-right policies

Civil rights are at risk with "increasing support for 'strongmen' who bypass political institutions," report says.

Italy's democracy ranking plummets due to far-right policies
A protester in Rome decries the country's immigration reforms. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The policies of Italy's populist government, which came to power last June, have torpedoed the country's global democracy ranking in this year's global report on democracy.

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.

“Deep disillusionment with political institutions, including parliament and political parties, fed through into increasing support for 'strongmen' who bypass political institutions,” the EIU, which is the respected research and analysis arm of the Economist Group, said in its report.

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 the evictions of immigrants and refugees and members of the minority Roma community from “illegal” camps despite a stop order issued by the European Court of Human Rights, the report said. 

READ ALSO:  Immigration to Italy: a look at the numbers

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 despite deaths on the Mediterranean.

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 controversial “security” decree which reduced humanitarian protection for tens of thousands of migrants.



Italian PM visits Kyiv for G7 virtual talks on Ukraine

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived in Kyiv Saturday to preside over a G7 virtual meeting on Ukraine on the second anniversary of Russia's invasion, the government announced in Rome.

Italian PM visits Kyiv for G7 virtual talks on Ukraine

The meeting, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also to attend, would discuss new sanctions against Russia.

Meloni flew to Poland, which adjoins Ukraine, and then took the train to Kyiv.

According to Italian news agency AGI, Meloni and Zelensky will open the meeting at 1600 GMT at the Saint Sophia cathedral in downtown Kyiv.

It is the first meeting of the G7, which groups the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada, under the Italian presidency.

Italian diplomatic sources said the meeting would last 90 minutes and a joint declaration on Ukraine was due to be adopted.

“Italy, Europe and the West must continue to back Kyiv because defending Ukraine means …. keeping war at bay, protecting our national interests and preventing the international order based on rules from breaking down,” Meloni told Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper in an interview published Saturday.

“We believe in Ukraine’s European future,” she said, referring to Kyiv’s frantic efforts to join the bloc.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen also arrived in Kyiv on Saturday for the second anniversary of the war.