The Weakest G7 summit of all times

4 min read

Until now, the posh, and very private, Italian resort Borgo Egnazia was mostly famous for being the place where Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel tied the knot, about 10 years ago.

This year, it made it to the headlines by giving home to the 50th G7 summit.

It might have happened that, when on their way to the picturesque Italian location, the leaders of the seven most developed countries were praying that the magic of the venue will be extended to them, as well, granting them another decade together in peace and happiness. Something fit to the anniversary.

Alas, the G7 leaders have probably never been so weak before.

The summit happened in a moment when several member nations grapple with domestic political challenges.

The exception was Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

She arrived fortified by her party’s strong performance in recent European elections, that put Italy in the position of the most stable country of the EU. A significant shift for a country known for its political volatility.

Meloni’s growing popularity reflects nationalist sentiments and opposition to EU policies on immigration and sovereignty. As Italy navigates economic recovery and political realignments, Meloni’s leadership appeals to disillusioned voters seeking alternative governance.

But Meloni’s success is in sharp contrast with the struggles of other G7 leaders, and it’s difficult to decide, who is in the worst situation.

Is it British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who faces an uphill battle ahead of next month’s general elections and who will almost surely lose his job? Recent polls by Techne UK show the Tories at a mere 19 percent, a historic low, trailing 26 points behind the Labour Party. Add to this the Reform UK party’s recent gains (measured at 14 percent) that threatens to split the right-wing vote.

Or Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who will lead, or rather, will try to lead Germany in the next two years with no popular support at all? His Social Democratic Party (SPD) suffered a crushing defeat in the recent European Parliamentary elections, securing only 14 percent of the vote (the worst results ever for the Socialists).

It could as well be French President Emmanuel Macron, who might not plan to resign from his post but has decided to play Russian roulette with a snap election, either way. Polls indicate that RN, led by Marine Le Pen, could win a significant number of seats, potentially up to 265, though still short of an absolute majority. Macron’s decision has been described as a gamble, risking further instability, and giving the far-right a real shot at power. The political landscape in France is now in flux, with all major parties scrambling to form alliances ahead of the elections.

Then, of course, there is U.S. President Joe Biden. whose son was recently sentenced (a big blow during the campaign that focuses on former President Trump’s criminal cases) and whose approval ratings average at 42 percent. Not to mention that Trump has gained ground in crucial battleground states like Pennsylvania and Georgia. Biden’s handling of international issues, such as the Gaza conflict, adds to the complexities as voters question his leadership capabilities.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida isn’t faring any better than the rest, as he has to face a significant decline in voter support.  According to a recent NHK poll, Kishida’s approval rating dropped by three points to 21 percent, the lowest since he took office in 2021. This decline jeopardizes his chances of winning the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) leadership election in September. The same poll showed a disapproval rating of percent, up five points from May, indicating widespread dissatisfaction with his government. This dissatisfaction could influence the upcoming party leadership race, where the winner is likely to become the next prime minister due to the LDP’s majority in the lower house of parliament.

The other woman in the room, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is fighting for her survival at the helm of the EU and there is a chance that she won’t make it.

At the end of the list is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Once the rock star of Canadian politics, now he is grappling with waning support and internal party dissatisfaction. With less than 17 months before the next federal elections, Trudeau faces an ascendant Conservative Party led by Pierre Poilievre. Despite various efforts to regain popularity, Trudeau’s approval ratings remain low. Pollster Quito Maggi describes Trudeau’s predicament as a “damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t scenario”, where his actions seem to have little impact on public opinion. The Liberal Party is struggling with fatigue and a series of scandals, leading to speculation about Trudeau’s potential resignation. However, Trudeau remains defiant, emphasizing his commitment to fight populism and division.

It was against this background that the supposed leaders of the world gathered to hold their yearly jamboree.

One could say that it was maybe the last show of an old (some in the literal sense, others just figuratively), failing political generation, where Meloni was representing the transition to the new era.

One that very likely approaches quickly, because the European parliamentary elections showed that people are being fed up with politicians who fail to hear or recognize the voters’ wishes.

Europe might have “tilted” to the right, but the truth is (like it’s been said many times) that many of those votes were mainly protest votes against the actual elite and political leadership. No matter how some parties “were demonized” during the campaign, people made their voices heard because the current elite seems not ready to recognize that migration, economic situation, and the safety of Europe are important to them.

Something that still wasn’t completely heard or understood, at least based on the results of the summit.

The problem of migration made it into the final document only thanks to Meloni.

It seemed that Biden’s and Macron’s biggest issue was to strengthen the right for abortion (mainly because it is important to their political campaigns). Giorgia Meloni declared that it would have been a mistake to use the event for campaigns and she blocked the French initiative.

Not so surprisingly, Ukraine also featured high on the summit’s agenda.

President Volodymyr Zelensky could secure a $50 billion loan backed by frozen Russian assets, providing crucial support as the war with Russia continues. (A loan that Ukraine doesn’t have to repay, by the way.) The assets, totalling around $325 billion, generate significant interest, and the plan is to use this interest creatively. Though Moscow plainly and simply labelled the idea “theft,” the G7’s approach underscores their commitment to Ukraine.

Kyiv also signed new security agreements with the US and Japan. And the G7 leaders made a pledge to try to weaken Russia financially even more.

The summit also addressed other geopolitical and economic issues, talking about a wide range of issues from China through the Indo-Pacific area to Gaza, climate crisis and food and health insecurity. Among others.

Pope Francis made history as the first pope to attend a G7 summit. Quite unusually for a pontiff, he spoke about the ethical implications of artificial intelligence, urging for global regulation to prevent AI’s potential threats to ethics and human rights. This aligns with broader discussions on the risks and opportunities presented by AI.

Italy took the chance and used the summit to promote its Africa-focused initiatives, inviting leaders from Algeria, Kenya, and Tunisia. This aligned with Meloni’s Mattei Plan, aimed at fostering development in Africa to curb illegal migration to Europe by creating jobs and improving infrastructure in key sectors like education, health care, and agriculture.

In conclusion, the G7 summit in Puglia was a microcosm of the global stage, blending luxury with stark realities, and trying to address urgent international challenges against a backdrop of shifting political landscapes.

But with six out of the seven leaders (seven out of the eight if we also count von der Leyen) battling for their own survival, it is questionable how efficiently and authentically they can represent their voters and their expectations.

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