Giorgia Meloni is currently seeing a surge in support that could result in her being Italy’s first female prime minister and the country’s first far-right leader since World War II next month.
Giorgia Meloni is riding a tide of support that could see her become Italy’s first female prime minister and its first far-right leader since World War II next month. Her message combines Christianity, motherhood, and patriotism.
Meloni has sought to allay worries about the legacy of her party, the Brothers of Italy, even though it has neo-fascist roots, claiming that voters are sick of such conversations.
However, there are persistent indications that such a legacy won’t be so easily shed: Her party’s insignia has a tricolored flame that was taken from a neo-fascist party founded soon after the war.
If Brothers of Italy wins the election on September 25 and the 45-year-old Meloni is elected prime minister, it will be nearly 100 years to the month since Italy’s fascist leader Benito Mussolini assumed power in October 1922.
Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini, a great-grandson of the dictator, was triumphantly announced by Meloni as one of her candidates for the European Parliament in 2019, however, he ultimately lost.
Anti- and neo-fascist beliefs aren’t “a key determinant of who to vote for” for the majority of Italian voters, according to Lorenzo Pregliasco, head of the YouTrend polling firm. “They don’t regard that as existing right now. They consider that to be the past.
Although Meloni prefers the term conservative to far right to characterize her party, she is sensitive to foreign attention regarding her potential premiership.
She recently recorded video messages in English, French, specializes and Spanish that declared the Italian right “has handed fascist over to history for decades now, firmly rejecting the suppression of democracy and the shameful anti-Jewish laws.”
That was an allusion to the restrictions passed in 1938 that forbade the tiny Jewish population in Italy from taking part in business, education, and other aspects of daily life. During the German conquest of Rome in the closing stages of World War II, the legislation prepared the way for the deportation of numerous Italian Jews to Nazi death camps.
The tri-colored flame in her party’s logo, however, “she is symbolically playing on that tradition,” said David Art, a professor of political science at Tufts University who specializes in Europe’s extreme right.
According to Gastone Malaguti, the Italian educational system pays little attention to the fascist era, in contrast to Germany, which has had to deal with the disastrous Nazi legacy. He battled Mussolini’s army as a youth and is now 96 years old. When he spoke about Italy’s anti-fascist Resistance in classrooms for decades, he discovered that many students were “ignorant” of that history.
Brothers of Italy, whose name is derived from the first few words of the national song, was considered a fringe group with 4.4% of the vote just five years ago. Ahead of the center-left Democrat Party led by former premier Enrico Letta, polls now predict that it could win in September with up to 24% of the vote.
Campaign coalitions, not simply electoral outcomes, are what catapult party leaders into the government in Italy’s convoluted, partially proportional political system. This year, right-wing politicians have fared better than Democrats at forming broad electoral alliances.
Meloni has teamed up with the right-wing League party, led by Matteo Salvini, who shares her preference for tougher immigration enforcement. The center-right Forza Italia party of former premier Silvio Berlusconi is her other electoral ally.
Her party was the only significant one to decline to join Premier Mario Draghi’s coalition of national pandemic unity in Italy last year. Draghi is a former president of the European Central Bank. Salvini, Berlusconi, and the leader of the 5-Star party, Giuseppe Conte, abruptly left Draghi’s administration last month as their parties’ fortunes in polls and municipal elections deteriorated.
Meloni is “credited with a consistent and clear approach to politics,” according to opinion polls. Pregliasco stated that she “didn’t compromise,” and that people view her as “a leader with clear principles, but not everyone agrees with those ideas.”
She has expressed regret for the “tone,” but not the content, of a scathing speech she gave in June to promote the far-right party Vox in Spain.
In an apparent reference to Holocaust denial, Meloni said, “They will claim we are dangerous, fanatics, racist, fascist, deniers, and homophobes.” “Yes to natural families! ” she cried in a crescendo as she finished. Against LGBT lobbying! Sexual identity is welcome! “Gender ideology must go!
Meloni criticized “climate fundamentalism” and “bureaucrats in Brussels.” The phrase “woman and motherhood” is “the most censured,” according to Meloni, who has a small daughter.
While legal in Italy, abortion hasn’t become a political topic there. Meloni, though, has criticized Italy’s declining birth rate, which would be significantly lower without the pregnancies of immigrant women.
Meloni received applause when she shouted in a staccato tempo, “I am Giorgia! “, at a rally of right-wing supporters in Rome in 2019. I’m a female. I have children. Both Italian and Christian, I am. And you cannot deprive me of that!”