Michael Ende and the Conservative Movement

Politics - December 4, 2023

The ECR Party holds its next International delegation in Rome, Italy, from 15 to 17 December.  It is a rather special occasion, as the attendees will enjoy the “Atreju”, the most important youth celebration of the governing party “Fratelli d’Italia” (Brothers of Italy, named after the first verse in the Republic’s national anthem, or FdI in a shortened form).

Fans of the Bavarian writer Michael Ende might recall that Atreju is one of the heroes in his incredibly inspiring fantasy novel The Neverending Story.  His role is to combat the growing philosophical and moral nihilism, as it is today represented by the left-wing political forces and their allies.  Let us recall, for instance, the case of the Frankenstein coalitions in Poland and Spain.

The event already possesses a certain tradition, as it originated back in 1998, at that time the official celebration of the youth movement belonging to “Alleanza Nazionale” (National Alliance), the predecessor party to FdI.  It was actually a very young Giorgia Meloni, then only 21, who led the first edition of the event.  In 2001 it became the national feast of “Azione Giovani” (Youth Action), the younger branch of Alleanza Nazionale.

From 2009, it was taken over during four years by the centre-right coalition “Popolo della Libertà” (People of Freedom), which had merged Alleanza Nazionale together with Silvio Berlusconi’s “Forza Italia” (Italy Force).

From 2014 onwards, the event was recovered by the “Gioventù Nazionale” (National Youth), the youth movement within FdI.  That year, 450,000 visitors were hosted by 1,200 volunteers on the “Isola Tiberina”, the Tiber Island that dates back to the Ancient History of Rome’s original settlers.

Unfortunately, attendees at the time could not witness a debate with liberal politician Matteo Renzi, then the nation’s Prime Minister, despite the fact that it was the fourth time he had been invited to the event.  Possibly it was difficult for him to openly discuss his own policy with the conservative opposition.  He did attend in 2021, when he had already left office.

Nowadays, Renzi has abandoned active politics in his country and conducts a very profitable speech business of his own in the Middle East, financed by Saudi Arabia, where an evident contradiction arises with regards to his supposedly progressive thought.

In 2015, the event ran under the theme “Terra Nostra” (Our Land).  The famous writer, punk singer and actor Giovanni Lindo Ferretti, originally a Communist but more recently a supporter of FdI and a Roman Catholic, was one of the stars of that edition.

Four years later, it was none less than Viktor Orban, the great Hungarian leader in the first half of the 21st century, who visited Atreju.  After more than 22 years of Atreju, his Italian counterpart expressly saluted the historical figure of Giorgio Almirante as someone who would comply with promises made, differently from politicians with less scruples.  She also defended Religious Identity (or God), the Fatherland and Family – and all of that when she had not yet achieved power.

On this occasion, Atreju 2023 is being announced under the motto “Bentornato Orgoglio Italiano” (Welcome Back Italian Pride).  In the announcing picture we can see Prime Minister Mrs. Meloni proudly saluting the national colours, her hand on her left chest, close to her heart.

The “Castle Sant’Angelo”, a historical landmark of the Roman capital, immortalised by Puccini in his breath-taking opera “Tosca”, will become the see for the conservatives’ meeting.  Once more, the leader of FdI insists that the format of the event includes an open debate with members of the opposition, as the confrontation of ideas is always welcome by the current Italian government.

This makes the appointment all the more exciting.  Hope, dignity and grandeur of Italy, as summed up by the head of FdI, might well be a tripartite slogan for many other politicians in Europe and abroad.