Italian Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Francesco Lollobrigida is warning that Italians face “ethnic replacement” by migrants and urges the country to take steps to raise the birth rate and support families.
“We cannot resign ourselves to the idea of ethnic replacement: Italians have fewer children, so let’s replace them with others. This is not the way to go,” said Lollobrigida, a member of the Brothers of Italy party (Fratelli d’Italia), led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. He is also Meloni’s brother-in-law.
As a part of the Brothers of Italy’s campaign in 2022, the party promised to reverse Italy’s low birth rate and curb the arrival of migrants through the Mediterranean Sea. However, the party has struggled on both counts, and Italy has seen the number of migrants arriving quadruple over the last year.
The issue of migration has led to stark divides in Italian society. Lollobrigida made his remark about “ethnic replacement” after the outgoing president of the country’s National Institute for Social Security (INPS), Pasquale Tridico, claimed this week that Italy needs a constant stream of migrants to sustain its pension system. Meloni also chimed in on the issue, stating: “I believe that before arriving at the issue of immigration we need to work, for example, on the possibility of involving many more women in the labor market.”
Stefano Candiani, the former undersecretary of state at the Italian Interior Ministry and a member of Matteo Salvini’s League party, delivered remarks during an interview with La7 television more in line with Lollobrigida. “They want to replace the workforce, Italians, with low-cost workers.”
The topic of the Great Replacement is already a common one in France, with intellectuals and politicians alike debating the declining French population in relation to France’s growing foreign population. For example, author, commentator and leader of the Reconquête party in France, Éric Zemmour, stated in 2020 while speaking of the Great Replacement that “Immigration changes the makeup of a people. It is a crime against the European peoples, it will end in bloodshed.”
The issue may be more pronounced in France due to the rapid demographic changes in the country. While Italy still has a large majority of Italians, France is facing some of the most rapid demographic changes in Europe.
Approximately 32,700 migrants arrived in Italy so far in 2023, up from 8,400 during the same period in 2022. The sudden rise prompted Giorgia Meloni’s coalition government to declare a six-month state of emergency last week.