Is Italy interested in the Catalan process?
If we think of Italy, politically, in all its own facets, we can confirm that it is a laboratory for European policies. It was both the place the birth of ‘Fascism’ as well as the historic compromise between the Christian Democrats (50 years firmly in the government of the Country) and the PCI (the largest communist party of Western Europe); and then, with ‘Mani Pulite’ and its judicial investigations that radically changed the entire Italian party system of the so-called ‘First Republic’. Just to name a few examples. Silvio Berlusconi bursted onto the political scene and merged politics with massive use of the media. On the other hand, the work of the ‘Technical Governments’ allowed Italy to enter and stay in the Euro.
We certainly cannot say that the Italians have been bored with this dizzying array of internal political changes, which have largely drawn the attention of the people and the media. The weight of the domestic political debates eclipses what takes place outside of the country. Suffice to think about the small space reserved for foreign policy in the Italian press and on TV. With a few exceptions, the media and journalists are more sensitive to internal issues than to international ones and often consider the latter as more functional than the former.
In light of this, the huge space dedicated to the information about the political process under way in Catalonia, by Italian media, gains importance.
The first reason for such interest could be the worry that the Catalan political process could become the groove to target the existing independence movements in some Italian regions. In reality, the majority of Italian political analysts agree in considering these movements are devoid of sufficient social and electoral support to be an achievable project.
A second reason may be concerns about the possible negative consequences on the functioning of the EU stemming from the proliferation of new states of small and medium size. The European process unfortunately languishes today because of the selfishness of the current member states - some of those led by anti-European political forces - and certainly not because of the possible entry of new pro-European members.
A third reason for the Italian media´s interest in the Catalan political process is to understand and predict what might be the possible geopolitical and economic impact of the birth of a new Catalan State on the international scene, and in particular on the Mediterranean. Will Catalonia be a competitor or an ally for the Italian State? What will be Catalonia´s position on the major conflicts and issues that affect the Italian Government?
First of all, such an attitude demonstrates that the Italians do not consider impossible the creation of a future Catalan State and, at the same time, highlights the need for Catalonia to move decisively and clearly on the international scene by identifying its strategic partners and which political and economic areas to prioritise.
The international political system is a complex chessboard where every move corresponds to a calculated reaction. The decisions that the Catalan government will adopt in international politics and during the creation of the new state, will determine Catalonia´s presence on the international scene in the years to come.