By Vincenzo Caccioppoli
Another blow to the European left comes from yesterday’s voting in Finland. The young Finnish premier Sanna Marin, idol of the left of half of Europe, lost the elections, finishing in third place, behind the national conservatives of Antti Petteri Orpo and especially behind the populists of Riikka Purra.
Although the polls predicted a loss for Marin, the gap came in slightly larger than expected.
After Sweden, therefore, another northern party, which is notoriously considered to be part of the so-called “frugal” ones, turns towards the centre-right, demonstrating how the left is not in crisis only in Italy or Spain but also in northern Europe.
This fact increases the concerns of socialists and liberals, in view of the important electoral commitment of the European elections of 2024, in which the center-right could obtain a clear majority and change the balance in Brussels.
On this front, the ECR group, of which the Italian premier Giorgia Meloni is president, has for some time been trying to create an alliance with the popular parties to strengthen the center-right front against a left certainly in great difficulty, also due to the Qatargate scandal .
The result of Finland represents yet another sign that even in countries that have always been considered progressive, such as those of northern Europe, there seems to be a paradigm shift in the political sense. The right is undoubtedly gaining positions over the left. The Finnish leader, who became the youngest prime minister in Europe when she won the elections for four years, was considered a sort of icon for the left of half of Europe.
Her resounding defeat can only cause a further shock in the European left, and increase concern in view of the very important elections for the renewal of the European Parliament next year.
She was defeated, above all because of its economic policy, considered too little attention to public finances. Under her government, the debt has soared and the economy has been faltering for months.
Marin has dashed the expectations (perhaps too high) that many Finns had placed on her, despite having guided the country well overall out of the pandemic and having concluded the process for the country’s entry into NATO.
But her ways perhaps a little too cheeky even for the Finns and her private life a little controversial (the video that portrayed her dancing probably not exactly sober at a private party is famous) have thrilled many of her admirers, but have also attracted a lot of criticism whether or not they were appropriate to his public role.
However, Orpo’s conservatives have focused above all on her inadequacy from a political point of view, rather than on her private life (in the Nordic countries considered sacred) which have brought the country to the brink of recession.
It remains to be seen whether Orpo will rely on Purra’s nationalists to form a new government or whether it will seek other alliances.
The question could also have repercussions on Europe itself, since the nationalist party is Eurosceptic and anti-immigrant and certainly in favour of a greater tightening on EU budgetary rules.
What should make the left and Europe in general reflect is the one according to which the nationalist party of Purra would have the majority among young people, denying the umpteenth cliché that would see young voters closer to the left and progressive ideas.
But what happened in Finland represents what some might see as a shift in the Nordic countries towards centre-right conservative ideas, following the resounding victory in Sweden last September that saw a centre-right government come to power. Some commentators are convinced that behind Purra’s great result, the success of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni may have been influenced in the slightest part by the great success and clamor that is arousing throughout Europe.
There is no doubt that the great success at home of the new enterprising Italian prime minister, leading a right-wing party, which in just a few years has gone from 4% to become the leading party in the country with over 30% of the votes.
If a victory of the conservatives in Bulgaria and the centre-right in Spain at the end of the year are added to Marin’s defeat, it is clear that the European picture in view of the 2024 European elections seems to have clearly shifted towards the centre-right camp.
A clear victory for the conservatives in the European elections could change the balance in Brussels and bring about a decisive change in the direction of economic and foreign policy across the continent. And in this context it is easy to imagine that the leadership of the president of the conservative party and Italian premier, Giorgia Meloni, could only strengthen and try to take advantage of the internal weakness of both Macron and Scholtz.
This could lead to the possibility that Angela Merkel, who led Germany and the European Union for over twelve years, could be filled by another woman in the great void left by the German chancellery.
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