Former Italian PM Matteo Renzi talks on populists rise in Europe, referendum defeat and migrant crisis

The Italian ex-prime minister and former leader of the Democratic Party Matteo Renzi joins SophieCo to discuss the rise of populist politicians in the country and Europe, the causes of the migration crisis and his resignation in 2016.

“For the populists, everything is easy until they become a government,” Renzi says. The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and its right-wing coalition ally Lega (ex-Lega Nord) that won the most parliamentary seats in the March election promised the renegotiation of EU membership, a clamp down on more than 600,000 undocumented migrants, tax cuts and increased public spending. “We will see if after a great electoral campaign with great proposals to the citizens those populists will be able to achieve any results.”

Following the Democratic Party election setback, Renzi stepped down as its leader. In 2016, he also resigned as prime minister after suffering a crushing defeat in a referendum on constitutional reform, designed to change the political system. “In terms of political organisation we aren’t number one in the world. We are terribly complicated. I tried to change it. I lost, I lost my job. But I think, this was a correct fight,” Renzi says.

As for the migrant crisis in Italy and Europe, the ex-PM says the 2011 military intervention in Libya is to blame. “My view is that after this decision we opened a gate not from Libya to Italy, but from Africa to Europe. This gate appeared for the lack of political governance in Africa and particularly in Libya, and for the lack of vision of European leaders.”

“Europe is either able to have a common strategy for migration or Europe will lose itself.”

Tune in for the full edition of SophieCo with Matteo Renzi for more.