Italy’s far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, whose party came first in the general election, said on Monday that she would seek to lead the next government and work for the benefit of all Italians.
Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, has not held office but appears ready to form the most far-right government in Italy since the fall of dictator Benito Mussolini during World War II.
“The Italians sent a clear message in favor of a right-wing government led by the Brothers of Italy,” she told reporters in Rome, adding, “We will do this for all” Italians.
Projections published by public Rai station and Quorum/YouTrend put the Brothers of Italy ahead, with between 24 and 26 percent of the vote, favoring Meloni to become their country’s first female prime minister.
Its allies, Matteo Salvini’s far-right League, and Forza Italia led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, were far behind. But the coalition was expected to win about 43 percent, enough to secure a majority in both houses of parliament.
The result has yet to be confirmed, but it risks new problems for the European Union, just weeks after the far-right won an election in Sweden.
Meloni, who campaigned under the slogan “God, country and family”, has abandoned calls for one of Europe’s largest economies to leave the eurozone, but says Rome should assert its interests more in Brussels.
“Today you can take part in writing history,” the 45-year-old tweeted before the polls closed.
Giorgia Meloni casts her vote at a polling station in Italy, as she is headed to become the next prime minister. source: AAP / Massimo Bercosi
Congratulations came quickly from Meloni’s nationalist allies across Europe, from Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to Spain’s far-right Vox party.
The turnout was lower than in the 2018 election, at around 64 percent, down from 73 percent.
Meloni has been leading in opinion polls since Prime Minister Mario Draghi called snap elections in July after the collapse of the national unity government.
Hayes was the only party not to join Mr Draghi’s coalition when, in February 2021, the former European Central Bank chief was parachuting into a country still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
For many voters, Meloni was “Modernity, the only leader that Italians have yet to try,” Wolfango Piccoli of the consultancy Tineo told AFP before the election.
But the self-proclaimed “Christian Mother” – whose experience in government was limited to her tenure as a minister in Berlusconi’s government in 2008 – faces huge challenges ahead.
Like much of Europe, Italy is suffering from rampant inflation as an energy crisis looms this winter, linked to the conflict in Ukraine.
The Italian economy, the third largest in the Eurozone, is also burdened with debt worth 150 percent of GDP.
Who is Giorgia Meloni?
Meloni, an outspoken Romanian raised by a single mother in a working-class neighborhood, criticizes what she calls “gay lobbies,” “awakened ideology” and “Islam violence.”
It has pledged to stop tens of thousands of migrants arriving on Italy’s shores each year, a position it shares with Mr Salvini, who is currently on trial for blocking charity rescue ships when he was interior minister in 2019.
The center-left Democratic Party claimed that her government would pose a grave danger to hard-earned rights such as abortion and would ignore global warming, even though Italy was in the front line in the climate emergency.
The Brothers of Italy has its roots in the post-fascist movement founded by supporters of Benito Mussolini, and Meloni herself hailed the dictator when she was young.
She has sought to distance herself from the past as she shaped her party into a political force, going from just 4 percent of the vote in 2018 to Sunday’s victory.
Voter turnout was lower in this election than it was in 2018. source: AP / Mauro Scropogna
Her coalition campaigned on a program of low taxes, an end to mass immigration, Catholic family values, and an assertion of Italian national interests abroad.
They want to renegotiate the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund, arguing that the nearly €200 billion that Italy is due to receive must take into account the energy crisis.
But Mark Lazar, a political sociologist, said that “Italy cannot be denied these sums”, which means Meloni in fact has “very limited room to maneuver”.
The money is tied to a series of reforms that Draghi has just started.