minister says italy risks ‘ethnic replacement’ due to low birth rate and high immigration
Tuesday’s comments by an Italian minister that the nation was at risk of “ethnic replacement” because of its low birthrate and the influx of thousands of migrants sparked a contentious debate on immigration.
‘The Italians are having fewer children, so we’ll replace them with someone else,’ is an idea that must be rejected. Francesco Lollobrigida, the agriculture minister in the hard-Right administration of prime minister Giorgia Meloni, declared, “That’s not the way.
He claimed that he was not opposed to legal immigration, particularly if there weren’t enough Italians to fill specific jobs, and that immigration could provide “growth opportunities for a country”.
However, Mr. Lollobrigida, a senior member of the hard-Right Brothers of Italy, claimed that encouraging Italians to have more children through improved child care and employment opportunities for women rather than allowing many more immigrants would increase Italy’s population.
His warnings about “ethnic replacement” had echoes of the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, which asserts that non-white immigrants are being “replaced” purposefully by white Europeans.
The minister’s comments, according to Elly Schlein, the leader of the center-left Democratic Party, reeked of white “supremacist” attitudes and brought to mind Benito Mussolini’s fascist rule.
“The minister’s words are disgusting and unacceptable from someone in his position,” declared Ms. Schlein.
“They bring us back to the 1930s, and they have a whiff of white supremacism,” said one person.
Democratic senator Filippo Sensi alleged that Mr. Lollobrigida had “evoked the pseudo doctrine of ethnic replacement” and declared that he was “not fit to hold office.”
The leader of a small centrist party, Carlo Calenda, criticised the minister for using language that threatened Italy’s “respected position in Europe” and called it dangerous rhetoric.
His comments came a day after dire predictions that Italy’s population would decline by almost nine million people by 2100 due to the country’s extremely low birth rate.
According to the statistics agency Eurostat, among the 27 EU member states, the projected population decline is the most pronounced.
The large influx of migrants and refugees from Libya and Tunisia is also causing grave concern.
34,000 passengers have arrived in Italy so far this year, compared to 8,600 during the same period last year.
Ivory Coast and Guinean nationals have arrived in the greatest numbers, followed by Pakistan, Tunisia, Egypt, and Bangladesh.
Additionally, Mr. Lollobrigida’s remarks appeared to be in response to economists’ cautions that Italy won’t be able to pay for welfare and pension payments unless it increases the immigrant population.