Italy’s New Mandatory Vaccine Law Will Fuel a Populist Backlash
On July 28, a new law passed final approval in Italian parliament that will impose steep fines, school segregation and exclusion from daycare on families who refuse to vaccinate their children according to the Ministry of Health’s schedule.
In the months leading up to the law’s passage, the measure was met with stiff resistance and mass protest by opponents who correctly argue that the law would infringe on their personal liberties. With a strong populist opposition movement already surging in Italy—which opposed the new law—voters will undoubtedly be thinking about this law when they vote in next year’s Italian election.
Italy’s 5 Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle, or M5S for short) has been surging in Italian election polls and is already neck-and-neck with the ruling party: Italy’s very own Democratic Party (Partico Democratico).
M5S’s leader Beppe Grillo, like President Donald Trump, had already made a name for himself on television long before entering politics. A professional comedian, Grillo’s specialty was political satire. But M5S is no more a satire than Trump’s campaign was a reality show; M5S is now the most formidable populist opposition party in Europe.
Last December, M5S played a major role in opposing constitutional changes proposed by then-Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. They were voted down in a referendum by a 60 percent majority, resulting in Renzi’s resignation. Yet Renzi’s Democratic Party is still bold enough to lead the push for national vaccine mandates, despite what also happened in America.
Renzi’s political counterpart Barack Obama denied there were any reasons to not get vaccinated. Hillary Clinton made it clear in a tweet to her millions of followers that vaccination should not be questioned. California’s Democratic Party was also behind a state law signed by Governor Jerry Brown in June 2015 that stripped away religious and philosophical exemptions from vaccination.
By contrast, America’s own populist candidate Donald Trump said on a debate stage in front of millions of viewers that he supported spacing out vaccines and that he believed this would have a huge impact on autism. His then-opponent, former director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Ben Carson agreed with Trump about spacing vaccines out. Carson also later endorsed Trump during the primaries.
The voters who elected Trump and rejected Clinton knew where both candidates stood on vaccinations. Similarly, Italian voters will head to the ballots in next year’s election knowing that Italy’s populists stood up for their vaccine exemption rights while Italy’s Democrats stripped them away.
Jake Crosby is editor of the website Autism Investigated. Crosby has a masters in Public Health in epidemiology. In 2016, he worked as both a campaign field representative and as a volunteer to elect President Trump and other GOP candidates. He has also made freelance contributions to the Autism Media Channel and the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute