Populism on the rise: The new Italy | DocFilm | DW | 20.03.2019
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DocFilm

Populism on the rise: The new Italy

The government led by the right-wing League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement is causing a stir. Xenophobia, frustration, isolation, aggressive rhetoric and indifference to rising debt are now part of everyday political life in Italy.

Watch video 42:36

This documentary takes viewers on an intellectual journey across the southern European country. In it, interviews with leading policymakers and scientists in Rome provide a critical background snapshot of the current political situation there.

Populists may be gaining ground all over Europe, but change has already become a political reality in Italy, where the electorate and media have lost faith in traditional parties. Growing economic problems and an increasing disenchantment with Europe have paved the way for parties that were once on the political fringes to assume political power.

But why do so many Italians now believe the radical slogans propagated by the right-wing League and its leader, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini? Why does one voter in three now subscribe to the often utopian ideals preached by Beppe Grillo's 5-Star Movement?

The film documents impressions and encounters from a journey through a deeply unsettled country, dovetailing them with in-depth background discussion to form a critical impression of what's going on in Italy today. Do the developments there suggest what's in store for other European democracies?

From the border fences in Ventimiglia — where refugees wait in vain to cross into France — to the cheese cellars and pig farms of Emilia-Romagna and the working-class districts of Pisa, the journey ends in the Caserta district in Naples, where the 5-Star Movement is very popular indeed.