EU Watch

Italian Secret Service Predicts Proliferation of Racism Before European Elections

A report delivered to Parliament by the Italian Secret Service highlights "concrete danger of the growth of episodes of intolerance towards foreigners" by the extreme right.

by Louis Labarriere

The report suggests "the markedly racist and xenophobic behaviour already implemented by extreme right formations may increase in the coming weeks". The Italian Secret Service also claim that there is a risk of the "conflict" between anti-fascists and right-wing extremists intensifying and leading to "criticality" for public order.

Racist acts likely to proliferate

The report, which was submitted to Parliament, points out that extreme right-wing groups have already been involved in clearly racist and xenophobic behaviour, and that these actions are likely to proliferate in the next few months.

The Secret Service highlights a "pronounced vitality" in the current far-right formations, which have given rise to a series of propaganda and protest initiatives. It is precisely in these actions that the Secret Services fears trouble.

Concerning terrorism, the phenomenon of individuals being radicalised in Italy is one of the areas in which Italian intelligence is most involved. This matter is "ever wider and more elusive" and requires careful monitoring to capture signals of the possible transition from radicalisation to violent activation.

Racism "boom" as violence triples in one year

A “boom in racism” is reportedly taking place in Italy with violence having tripled in one year with 126 racists acts registered in 2018. According to the report, foreigners are regularly attacked, either physically or verbally. The report states the changes in terms of propaganda and practices that the anti-fascist movement has undergone in 2018 amount to "radicalisation" due to a "perceived growth of visibility and protagonism" of extreme right actors on issues of security, migrants and social distress. And this has accentuated the conflict between the two fronts with provocation, aggression and reactions capable of generating a critical state for public order. Anarchic-insurrectionist domestic extremism remains "the most insidious expression".

The national services underline that these forces have focused the debate "on the opposition to migration policies" and have promoted a narrative "with accents of strong intolerance towards foreigners". These sentiments have found a very broad consensus, especially in the suburbs, and may not only be fuelling resentment, but also inducing people to give vent to it.

European elections could be critical

The regional election in the Italian region of Abruzzo, which was held on 10 February, was a real test before the European elections. It was a clear victory for the League, as Matteo Salvini's party won 28% of the votes cast. Until now, European elections have mainly been national elections, with low turnout and no major stakes. But 2019 is different. The European campaign is now a transnational and pan-European event, which could undoubtedly be a way to solve some of the global problems that the European Union is currently facing.

Confronted with this, it is important to reiterate that European countries should remember the first title of the European Union Treaty which points out that “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities (...) non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity”.