Rome – Antonio Tajani, the next President of FI (Forza Italia), why would you impose «vetoes» on centre-right coalitions in Europe based on the Italian model, as Mr Salvini fears?
«I don’t impose any vetoes. I am just being realistic».
Realistic about what?
«About the fact that there is only one political majority able to beat the left party in Europe, namely the one that allowed me to be elected President of the EU Parliament in 2017. Then we will beat the left party for real».
Which political majority?
«I refer to the majority originating from the alliance among European People, Liberal and Conservative Parties. I have been the Vice-President of the EPP since 2002, so I am familiar with the dynamics of Europe and European parties. None of the other possible political majorities would beat the left parties. The game is open. Now, we have to play».
According to Salvini, Macron is not better than his group Identità e democrazia, and the centre-right party should be based on the Italian model.
«In Europe, we cannot decide alone. Each Italian party belongs to a political family that takes its decisions together. Thus, those familiar with the European dynamics know that the EPP would never build a coalition with Alternative für Deutschland and Marine Le Pen. Why? Because they have an anti-European attitude and the political position expressed in their programmes is incompatible with ours. Politics mainly lies on shared values. It is quite clear by reading the programmes of these extremist parties…».
So, this is the EPP’s choice, not yours?
«Politics lies on values. Given that these two parties uphold positions contrary to ours and the FI tradition, I could not see the chance of a coalition. Their votes would be useless, as they have anti-European attitudes. And you cannot rule the European institutions if you don’t have faith in Europe».
But in this way, one of your allies, the Lega Nord Party, would stay out.
«There is no veto against Lega. They are free to join if they want to; I don’t see any risk or negative consequence for the government. We are allies in Italy, and we get along quite well. However, we cannot decide as autonomous party leaders in Europe, as we belong to political families with their own reference values».
Would you exclude any future coalition with the PES?
«I have always worked, work and will work to build an alternative alliance to the left. I have started since I was elected back in 2017, focussing on avoiding the election of the socialist Timmermans as President of the EU Commission in favour of von der Leyen from the People’s Party. That was a victory for us. At that time, I asked Salvini – then in a coalition with Conte – to revoke the Italian consensus to Timmermans. And so he did».
However, you still have issues with the EU: the ESM (European Stability Mechanism), NRRP delays, and ECB criticism.
«Regarding the ESM, we will refer the vote within some months; it’s no tragedy. Meanwhile, there are other topics to discuss, such as the Stability Pact, which cannot have strict rules as in the past, and Spain agrees. Following are the bank union and the fiscal pact, as it is intolerable to have fiscal havens going against competition principles in Europe. We need to tackle these issues together».
What about the delays in the works?
«All Countries have some problems, but we will solve them quickly and safely. Furthermore, before changing its mind, the Commission had already approved some projects – such as the stadiums of Florence and Venice. Over the last three years, the world has changed a lot, thus requiring more flexibility and less formalism. This also applies to the ECB decisions: I am against the announced increase in rates and prices. Inflation is exogenous in Europe; it is not linked to growth as in the US. In this way, only the vulnerable citizens will be affected».
You are a strong Europeanist: will the FI Party that will elect you President on 15 July be as Europeanist as you?
«Of course, Berlusconi originally paved our path, and we will keep walking on it. It is no coincidence that the President of the EPP, Weber, will participate in our National Congress. We are drafting a planning document and will thoroughly comply with the by-law. We will work head-on as for the other events».
Will there be newly appointed people before the National Congress?
«We are talking about politics and not jobs. FI is a Party acclaimed by surveys and electors – as shown by the Molise Region – and this is what counts. All will play a role, and I think the leading class – supported by Berlusconi’s family as well – is aware of the challenge we are facing».
However, the clash between Fascina’s and Ronzulli’s supporters has started…
«No, there is no clash. We are all committed to honouring the memory of Berlusconi. The territorial congresses will be a place for discussion. But I don’t believe in individual issues; I believe in individuals. And I am firmly convinced that those who trust in the FI Party agree with me».