Some European leaders expressed concern after Giorgia Meloni won Italy’s elections on Sunday, in which her conservative coalition is set to lead the country’s most right-wing government since World War Two.
The Brothers of Italy party has its roots in the post-fascist movement founded by supporters of Benito Mussolini, and Meloni herself hailed the dictator when she was young.
The 45-year-old has sought to distance herself from the past as she put her party into a political force, going from just 4 percent of the vote in 2018 to an expected victory on Sunday.
Its success marks a seismic change in Italy, a founding member of the European Union and the third largest economy in the Eurozone — and for the European Union, just weeks later. .
Populist movements grow but end in disaster
On Monday, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Alparis warned that populist movements always rise in difficult times, but they always end badly.
“These are uncertain times and in times like these, populist movements always grow, but they always end in the same way – in disaster because they provide simple, short-term answers to very complex problems,” he told reporters at a briefing. Monday.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has said France will “take care” that abortion and other human rights are respected in Italy after Meloni’s election victory.
“We, together with the President of the European Commission, will be aware that the values of human rights, respect for one another, and in particular respect for abortion rights, are respected by all,” Ms Bourne told BFM TV.
But she declined to comment directly on the strong performance of Meloni’s Brotherhood of Italy party on Sunday, which should see the eurosceptic populist party secure a majority in both houses of parliament.
“I will not comment on the democratic choice of the Italian people,” she said.
The 45-year-old will become Italy’s first female prime minister. source: AAP / Minako Sasako / AFP
Meloni said she would maintain the country’s abortion law, which allows for terminations but allows doctors to refuse to perform them.
However, she has sounded the alarm among women’s rights advocates by saying she wants to “give women who believe abortion is their only option the right to make a different choice”.
Her party also pledged new steps to defend and strengthen the roots of European “Christian Judaism”, sparking anxiety among minorities.
Europe hopes for “constructive cooperation”
Meloni no longer wants Italy to leave the eurozone, but says Rome should assert its interests more, and has policies that appear ready to challenge Brussels on everything from public spending rules to mass immigration.
On Monday, the German government said it expected Italy to continue to be a “very friendly country to Europe”.
“We will of course have to wait for the final official result of this election but at this time what the chancellor will say is that Italy is a very friendly country to Europe with very friendly citizens of Europe and we assume that will not change,” Chancellor’s deputy spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters.
A spokesman for the Finance Ministry added that Berlin expected the new Italian government to continue to respect the stability pact that sets out the financial rules for the eurozone.
On Monday, the European Commission said it hopes to establish a constructive relationship with Italy’s next government.
EU spokesman Eric Mammer told a news briefing that the commission, the EU’s executive body, was in principle working “with the governments that will be out of the elections”.
“This is no different in this case. Of course we hope to have constructive cooperation with the new Italian authorities,” he added.
Meanwhile, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hailed a “great victory” for the Italian far-right.
“Great victory! Congratulations!” Using emojis, Moraviki said on Facebook that the two countries will be strong together.
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party and the Italian Brotherhood are part of the right-wing European Conservative and Reformist group.
“I am glad that a party from the ECR group is taking charge of another European country,” tweeted PiS member and former Prime Minister Beata Szydlo.
Right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s political director, Palaz Orban, was also quick to offer his congratulations.
“Congratulations to Georgia Meloni, Matteo Salvini and (Forza Italy leader) Silvio Berlusconi on the elections today! In these difficult times, we need more than ever friends who share a common vision and approach to Europe’s challenges.”
At a time of hyperinflation, a looming energy crisis, and war in Ukraine, Meloni has sought to reassure those concerned about her lack of experience and her radical past.
She said voters had sent a “clear message” to support her party to lead their right-wing coalition to power.
“If we are called to rule this nation, we will do it for all Italians. We will do it with the aim of uniting people and promoting what unites them, not what divides them,” she told reporters.