Italy is watching the outcome of the U.S. presidential election closely, as the results could have significant implications for cooperation on security, trade, and global challenges. On the economy, a second term for President Donald Trump could mean more tariffs, whereas an administration led by former Vice President Joe Biden is more likely to pursue conflict-free trade relations with Europe. On climate, there will almost certainly be more commonalities with a Biden administration than a second Trump term, as Biden has repeatedly identified climate change as pillar of his domestic and foreign policy agendas. On security issues, a second Trump administration is expected to continue its alternatingly dismissive and antagonistic approach toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and contribute to protracted tensions around defense spending. Meanwhile, Biden has said he will prioritize the restoration of American leadership and trust between transatlantic allies; he (like Trump) would likely continue reducing the scope of U.S. involvement in North Africa and the Middle East, which are key areas for Italian and European security interests. Finally, the candidates’ postures toward China and Russia are of great interest to Italy in light of technology competition concerns, as well as minding the trade-offs between economic opportunities and security risks.
There are at least four actions that the next U.S. administration should consider in its future engagements with Italy: Recognize that fostering new industrial linkages with transatlantic allies and protecting jobs at home is not a zero-sum game; seek overlap with Italy’s green economy plans and capitalize on existing cooperation in the renewable energy sector; restore trust with allies and leverage Italy as a capable security partner; and coordinate with allies on China and count on Italy as partner to dialogue with Russia.
President López Obrador's extension of the term of Supreme Court chief Arturo Zaldívar is part of his strong effort to recentralize power in the Mexican presidency and hollow out the independence and power of other Mexican institutions. His other moves to bend the justice system to his will include a reform that lowered the salary of judges but did not improve the quality of prosecutors and his unwillingness to allow an independent selection of the attorney general, with López Obrador himself retaining the power of appointment. His latest move with the two-year extension of Zaldívar’s term is especially worrisome. Zaldívar is also the president of the powerful Federal Judiciary Council. The council appoints and dismisses judges, sets career advancement rules and disciplines judges. Zaldívar will be setting the council’s and, thus, the whole judiciary’s, agenda and priorities for two years. This allows López Obrador to influence how courts will rule in cases regarding the executive branch, what cases they take up and the legality of new policies. These moves are taking place when the effectiveness of the judiciary in Mexico remains limited and deeply concerning. The attorney general’s office has proven weak, unwilling to take up key cases such as against the suspects in the brazen attack on Mexico City’s security minister, Omar García Harfuch—an event that symbolized the impunity with which Mexican criminal groups operate. Mexico’s justice system showed itself equally meek and disappointing in inadequately investigating the alleged complicity of former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos and dismissing the case, potentially the most significant case of corruption and criminal collusion charges against a high-ranking Mexican official in two decades. A decade and a half after Mexico initiated its justice system reforms, 95 percent of federal cases still go unpunished. President López Obrador has scored some points, but the already precariously weak rule of law in Mexico, and thus the Mexican people, will suffer.