(Montel) The front-runner to become Italy’s next prime minister in elections on Sunday plans to focus on natural gas and nuclear energy, along with other temporary market interventions to mitigate the country’s energy crisis.
The most recent opinion polls favour Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Fratelli d’Italia party, to win over her main rival Enrico Letta, leader of the centre-left Democratic party.
Much of the political campaign to replace outgoing premier Mario Draghi has focused on the current tight energy supplies, exacerbated by the Russian war in Ukraine, and skyrocketing bills, which continue to pile pressure on Italian businesses and households.
Gas, nuclear and EU green policies have emerged as contention points.
Meloni, who has teamed up with centre-right allies Matteo Salvini and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, supports the reactivation of the country’s long-shuttered nuclear power plants and an increase in domestic gas production.
Letta’s plan is more aligned with the EU’s green policies to boost renewables.
For the centre-left, the creation of new gas infrastructure – such as the two floating regasification terminals scheduled to start operating in 2023 and 2024 – was a “necessary evil, but a temporary one”, said Lorenzo Parola, managing partner at the Parola Angelini law firm.
On the nuclear front, the differences were blurred as the centre-left opposed it for practical reasons rather than ideological ones, he added.
Agreed on price cap
“Nuclear would have been a solution if [it was] already in place, however a new plant would not be operational even by 2030,” said Carlotta Piantieri, analyst at Aurora Energy Research, also citing high costs and the need for specialised labour force.
“The energy transition is definitely not the focus of the [right-wing] coalition,” she added.
However, the two leading candidates are aligned on an energy price cap and decoupling electricity prices from natural gas.
Using public spending to limit energy prices for household consumers was gaining ground in Italy, following similar announcements from the UK, Germany and France, Parola added.