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What do French nationals living in Italy think about their home country's politics?

France's President Emmanuel Macron arrives with Italy's Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni prior a meeting at the Palazzo Chigi in Rome, 26 September 2023
France's President Emmanuel Macron arrives with Italy's Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni prior a meeting at the Palazzo Chigi in Rome, 26 September 2023 Copyright Filippo Monteforte, Pool via AP
Copyright Filippo Monteforte, Pool via AP
By Giorgia Orlandi
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Euronews asked those living in the Italian capital what their take is on the 'Meloni effect' on French politics.

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Italians believe French President Emmanuel Macron did the right thing in calling for snap elections as a result of the EU vote, a poll in Italy has found.

Only a relatively small minority — some 20% — said they were concerned by the rise of France’s extreme right to some form of power, according to a poll carried out by SWG and published by Italian news channel TG La7.

However, when Euronews spoke to a selection of Italians on the streets of Rome, a slightly different picture emerged.

Some people expressed their concerns about Europe’s shift to the right, citing France as a specific example.

Among all the different takes on the issue, there was one common theme — namely, what is seen as the inextricable link between what has happened in France and the success of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

When we asked an expert about the impact of the “Meloni effect” or, as they call it here, the “Melonizzazione” on French politics, the answer was clear.

“Right-wing parties could follow Meloni’s example.” Antonio Villafranca, Vice President for Research at the ISPI Institute, told Euronews, “Despite remaining a right-wing party, her party is not Eurosceptical.”

But can Meloni set an example for other right-wing political forces wanting to become more moderate, including Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) party?

Meloni and Le Pen have previously disagreed on several issues, with Meloni proclaiming herself “pro-Ukraine” and “pro-NATO".

In theory, this would make it difficult to find common ground with members of the wider ID political group Le Pen’s RN belongs to.

When it comes to Macron, though, “I think it’s clear that the French president’s weakening is seen positively by the Italian government,” Villafranca explained.

Tensions between Macron and Meloni were clear at the G7 summit that took place in Puglia earlier in June, clashing particularly over abortion rights in the bloc.

What do French nationals in Italy make of it?

French nationals living in Italy have seen their country change from abroad - but Meloni's influence on Italy appears to have had an increasingly positive impact on the outlook of their home country.

Julien, who has been living in Rome for eight years, is concerned about what could happen in France, but he is reassured by the fact that some of Meloni’s initial, somewhat controversial, promises have simply never been fulfilled.

“She has continued to work well with European institutions,” he told Euronews, “so even if National Rally rises to power in France, I hope it will be balanced when dealing with some of its most extreme proposals.”

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Younger generations living abroad sometimes say they feel more impacted.

Macron’s decision to call for snap elections has made some consider returning to France and engaging in politics more than ever before.

Sarah Hannah, who works at the French Cultural Institute in Rome, told us she is impressed by how closely Italy is following the elections.

“I was so surprised because I think in France we talk less about Italian politics compared to how much people here talk about French politics,” she explained.

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Above all, we found that many people feel that political stability is a relatively new phenomenon in Italy.

For once, Italians are not the ones who have to worry about snap elections.

That’s perhaps why many eyes here are set firmly on France, keen to find out what’s going to happen after the upcoming elections — both in the country and wider Europe.

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