The Greek referendum from an Italian perspective
The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi while he gives a tie as a present to Alexis Tsipras during his visit in Italy in February. The Greek PM said that he would wear it when he will get a deal with the creditors

The 5th July referendum in Greece was an historical event and the consequences will be significant. In all the countries of the Union, the debate about the referendum and its results was relevant, but in particular it was strongly echoed in Southern Europe.

In Italy, a country that despite the optimism of the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is not doing well economically, the referendum shook public opinion and raised a strong debate that divided the political forces into Tsipras’ supporters and opponents.

The Democratic Party (PD), which is the majoritarian party in the incumbent government, is a center-left party but has not approved Tsipras’ initiative and, rather, Renzi has openly blamed the Greek leader before the referendum, claiming that Athens politics was “irresponsible”. Despite the PM’s opinion, some “rebel” members of the PD decided to fly to Athens and give their support to Syriza, to show their disappointment with Matteo Renzi’s attitude to always flank the European Central Bank’s policy.

Leaving behind Renzi’s arguable stance within what should be a leftist party, the most interesting thing is to take a look at the Italian political forces that supported the OXI in Greece, since most of them are anti-European parties very far away from Syriza’s values.

The most debatable supporter of the referendum is Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing party Lega Nord, who has been gaining large consensus over the last few months. Salvini, who targets migrants, Roma and the Italian Minister of the Interior Angelino Alfano as the actors responsible for most Italian problems, not only suggests the exit of Italy from the Eurozone but also wants to redefine the borders of Europe. Even though the differences with Tsipras are huge, he provided his support for the cause and praised Tsipras’ bravery against the “Soviet Union of Europe”.

Strong support also comes from the Five Stars Movement (M5S), a political party that prefers to be called “movement” and that disregards coalitions in the belief that all other political parties are equally corrupted. Regarding Europe, the M5S advocates for the exit of Italy from the Eurozone but not from the European Union. Many members of the movement went to Athens to wait for the referendum results and they then celebrated the OXI victory. But as for Lega Nord, the M5S position is very different from Tsipras’, who has repeatedly stated that a NO in the referendum is not a NO to Euro or Europe but rather a chance to create a new and a more fair European system.

The two political parties that are probably the closest to Tsipras’s cause are Sinistra, Ecologia e Libertà (SEL, meaning Left, Ecology and Freedom) and the newly born POSSIBILE. Both agree with Tsipras on his NO and refuse the exit of Greece from the Eurozone.

SEL and POSSIBILE are not as influential as the M5S and Lega Nord. On the one hand, SEL seems not able to gain the support of non-leftist voters and is having a hard time even gathering all the leftists’ votes, due to the proliferation of leftist political forces in Italy; on the other hand, POSSIBILE does not want to be a traditional left-wing party but, having been created very recently, it’s not yet known or influential. Moreover, his founder Pippo Civati has already received many critics because of his hesitance to decide to leave Renzi’s government.

All eyes are rightfully looking at Greece these days, but it’s important not to forget other European countries and the consequences that the referendum could bring for them. Especially in a country like Italy, where the winner is always the one who yells the loudest.