Coherent or Incoherent? Italian Sovereignist Parties in Front of Supranational Crisis Management
27 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2023
Date Written: August 15, 2023
This paper investigates how so-called sovereignist parties reacted to a crisis—the COVID-19 pandemic—that the European Union (EU) managed through supranational institutions (the Commission) and instruments (the recovery fund “Next Generation EU” or NGEU). Supranational crisis management is something that sovereignist parties—who push for policy repatriation and harshly criticize the Commission—are, in principle, not expected to endorse. Were sovereignist parties coherent with their original, anti-EU positions during the pandemic?
The paper first tests the “economic sovereignism” of three Italian parties: the League, Brothers of Italy, and the Five Star Movement. Then it does an in-depth qualitative text analysis of selected debates in the Italian Chamber of Deputies. The paper finds that during the COVID-19 pandemic sovereignist parties only partially managed to act in a way coherent with their original positions. In terms of institutional governance, they ended up in paradoxically supporting the powers of the Commission because that was considered to be more in line with their attempt to protect national sovereignty compared to the veto power granted to individual member states in the process of approving disbursement of NGEU funds. On several occasions, however, the position of the sovereignist parties was not clearly outlined and overall, no viable alternative to NGEU was proposed.
Keywords: Covid-19 pandemic, Crisis management, European Union, Next Generation EU, Sovereignism
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