The policies of Italy’s anti-immigrant and anti-establishment government which came to power last June have torpedoed the country’s global democracy ranking, a think tank said Wednesday.
The country dropped from 21st to 33rd position in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Democracy Index, mainly because of the presence of the far-right League in Italy’s coalition.
“Deep disillusionment with political institutions, including parliament and political parties, fed through into increasing support for ‘strongmen’ who bypass political institutions,” the EIU said in a report.
While the coalition also includes the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), the report singled out the League’s deputy prime minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for blame.
Salvini “has often used anti-foreigner rhetoric” and supported evictions of members of the minority Roma community from “illegal” houses despite a stop order issued by the European Court of Human Rights, the report said.
U.N. human rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet in September criticized Italy’s treatment of migrants and minorities.
She slammed those who would build walls against migrants, as well as Salvini’s decision to close Italy’s ports to boats carrying migrants rescued at sea.
Bachelet said she would send a team to Italy to assess what she said was a rise in reported violent and racist attacks on immigrants, people of African origin and Roma.
“All this contributes to the risk of a deterioration in civil liberties,” said the EIU report, which also “considers the extent to which the government invokes new threats as an excuse to curb civil liberties.”
Italy’s parliament in November approved a wide-ranging security decree which limits humanitarian protection for tens of thousands of migrants.
It is among several countries that are opposed to a U.N. Global Compact on Migration.
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Several thousand protesters rallied in Rome in November to protest against what they criticized as unfair anti-migrant policies promoted by far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.
Waving banners with slogans “Black lives matter” and “Welcome for all; Open the borders,” leftists joined anti-racism activists who organizers said came from 50 cities to defend migrants and protest a recent decree on asylum rights.