He goes fast but wants to talk. Antonio Tajaniformer president of the European Parliament and today the visible face of forza italythe center-right party of Silvio Berlusconi, attends EL PERIÓDICO when there are only a few hours left before the closing rally of the conservative bloc’s tense campaign. He has given many interviews these days, often presenting himself as the force that will ensure that Giorgia Melonithe leader of the post-fascist Brothers of Italy, and Matteo Salvinithat of the League, do not leave the European script after the elections that Italy celebrate this Sunday. Hence its relevance. Although the unknown remains.
He has said that Forza Italia will guarantee moderation in an eventual Government of Meloni and Salvini. How will they do it?
We will always defend Europe, the strong relationship with the United States, our participation in NATO, the right of Ukrainians to defend themselves. We are members of the European People’s Party (EPP), that is a guarantee in itself.
Will they have weighty ministries?
I do not know. First we have to win the elections.
What are the red lines by which Salvini and Meloni would be abandoned?
There is a common program that we have signed. We are part of this block because of what is written there. We will not walk away from that program and I don’t think our allies will. Mrs. Meloni has said it, Salvini has said it. Europe, NATO and the US are our red lines.
Will they continue on the path of Draghi’s agenda?
There is no Draghi agenda. He has carried out a work. The first thing for us is to defend workers’ wages, pensions, put a ceiling on the price of gas and reduce the cost of energy. We have to resolve it at the Italian and European level. The Amsterdam stock exchange (where the price of gas is traded) needs to be better controlled.
Internally, is there a red line that you will not cross?
I think that (the three parties) we share the same positions. If we talk about immigration, the important thing is to carry out a Marshall plan for Africa, to fight against the climate crisis, terrorism, poverty. This is important. You can’t solve Africa’s problems with the police. Fight against illegal immigration, of course, it must be done, at a European level. It is also important for the Spanish. We cannot leave Africa in the hands of China.
“Italian politics will not resemble Orban’s. Hungary is not the model”
What do you think of Meloni’s defense of Victor Orban? Will Italy move closer to the Visegrad bloc?
I don’t think this is going to be Italian politics. We don’t like Orban’s politics, which changed a lot after he left the EPP. (Hungary) is not the model. Berlusconi also said it. But, if we want to defend the rule of law, we cannot forget the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia, murdered by people with strong ties to the socialist government of Malta. We defend the rule of law in Budapest, in Poland, and also in other countries where there are socialist governments.
What do you think of the ties that Salvini and Meloni have with Trumpism?
I think now that is not something relevant. For us, the important thing is to be a guarantee for Europe and the United States.
Aren’t you worried when your allies speak of the primacy of the Italian national interest?
What interests Italy, interests Europe. Italy is an integral part of Europe. And Europe is not just France and Germany. Defending Mediterranean gastronomy is important. We are also against the Nutri Score (food labelling), like the Spanish. It is a damage done to European agriculture. Defending national interests is not being against Europe. We must put these issues on the table, discuss and find an agreement.
The three parties in his coalition belong to different European families. Won’t this cause some short circuit?
We already know that it is so. It is a coalition, not a single party. It is a coalition that was born this way by the Italian electoral law.
Is that why you allied yourself with the extreme right?
I don’t think Salvini and Meloni are far right. And I don’t understand why they worry about this when Podemos demonstrates against NATO in Madrid.
“Without Forza Italia, neither Meloni nor Salvini will be able to form a government”
Some analysts say that Meloni’s goal is to take over Forza Italia. Would you accept a merger?
It is very difficult for them to get hold of Forza Italia… (laughs) We are the EPP in Italy and there are no others who can fill this position. There is no possibility of a merger. That will not happen today or tomorrow. We are like the Spanish Popular Party and the German Christian Democratic Union. We are different and our voters are too. Also in the Italian Parliament each party will be in its place and will defend its identity.
What result is expected for Forza Italia in these elections?
Nobody knows at this time. Polls are very volatile. Surely (we will achieve) a percentage that allows us to be protagonists in Europe. They will not make a government without us.
Are you sure that, without Forza Italia, Salvini and Meloni will not be able to form a government?
I’m sure. Without Forza Italia, they will not be able to form a government.