The new prime minister of Italy may be a “local Marine le Pen”
Brothers of Italy nationalist party has a chance to win
After the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi and the dissolution of the President of Parliament, Italy faces a snap election scheduled for September 25th. According to polls, a coalition led by the far-right Brothers of Italy party may win a majority as a result of the vote.
George Meloni Photo: Global Look Press
Mario Draghi resigned as prime minister after his attempt to save the ruling coalition failed when three key parties – the populist 5 Star Movement, the far-right League; Matteo Salvini and Forza Italia Silvio Berlusconi – did not participate in the vote on the vote of confidence.
Draghi was Italy's sixth prime minister in a decade, taking over as prime minister in 2021 as the country grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. The Chairman of the Council of Ministers enjoyed wide support in Parliament and even achieved considerable prestige on the world stage. This gave many observers reason to think that he would be able to get around all the pitfalls and complete his premiership until the end of his mandate in 2023.
But even though Draghi formally emerged victorious on Wednesday in a vote of confidence, the demarche of the three parties represented in his government knocked him down. Hopes for restoring the spirit of the “pact of trust” collapsed.
A political crisis erupted in the country after the 5 Star Movement last week has boycotted a vote on a €26bn package to help Italians cope with inflation and energy costs, arguing it's not enough. Members of the government coalition “League” and “Forza Italia” called for a new government led by Mario Draghi, but without the Five Stars, while demanding a cabinet reshuffle. With this “blackmail” no longer wanted to agree to the prime minister – and cut the Gordian knot with his resignation.
And now the fun begins. If the current polls are to be believed, the clear favorite in the September elections is a coalition of right-wing forces led by the far-right Brothers of Italy, accompanied by the far-right League and the Berlusconian party “Forward, Italy” (Forza Italia).
According to a survey conducted by the SWG Institute, “The Brothers of Italy” led by Georgia Meloni, they rank first in electoral sympathies (almost 24%), ahead of the center-left from the Democratic Party (22%) and the League. (14%), not to mention Forza Italia (about 7%) and the 5 Star Movement (11%).
Obviously, the parties will have to form coalitions in order to achieve a majority – and if the right manages to unite, then thanks to the peculiarities of the Italian electoral system, they have very good chances.
And the Democratic Party will have to explore the possibility of cooperating with the populists from the Five Star Movement. – it looks like only this combination will give her hope.
If the “League” headed by former Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and created by Berlusconi “Forward, Italy”; have been heard for a relatively long time, then the “Brothers of Italy” that have been on the political scene for ten years; outside the Apennine peninsula are not well known. Suffice it to say that in the general elections in 2018, this party received only 4% of support, but since then it has broken out of the outsiders into the headliners of Italian politics. And the head of the party, 45-year-old Georgia Meloni, was the vocal leader of the opposition throughout Mario Draghi's premiership. She has long called for new elections – and so I waited.
“The will of the people is expressed in one way: by voting, — Meloni says. – Let's give back hope and strength to Italy.
And there is a possibility that the first woman in the post of prime minister will appear in Italian history. True, not everyone is satisfied with such a prospect. And it even scares someone.
“Early elections to be held in the autumn may open the Brothers of Italy” path to becoming the first far-right party to lead a major eurozone economy, – comments on the situation in the author's column in The New York Times, the author of works on modern Italian fascism, David Brodeur. – For Europe and the country, this would be a truly seismic event.
If the Brothers of Italy coalition wins, it will mean “a much more devastating scenario for Italy and the EU,” predicts the senior researcher Luigi Scazzieri Center for European Reforms.
Named after the words of the Italian national anthem (Fratelli d'Italia), this party is genetically linked to the Italian “post-fascist” conservative movement, being “kin” – although not too close, but through several organizations – with the Italian Fascist Party of Benito Mussolini. True, “Brothers” whenever possible, they try in every possible way to distance themselves from associations with fascism and even condemned the excesses on the part of the current neo-fascists, condemning “all types of totalitarianism.”
The ideological platform of the “Brothers” built on conservatism and nationalism. At the EU level, the party favors a confederal “Europe of Nations” rather than a European federation. True, the euroskeptic rhetoric of the party leaders has noticeably softened recently: the more positive attitude of Italians towards Brussels is affecting after the creation of a 750 billion euro recovery fund after the pandemic in the EU, the largest recipient of which should be Italy.
As for relations with Russia, until the end of February, “Brothers of Italy” advocated improving relations with Moscow, but then made a sharp turn, taking a sharply pro-Ukrainian and pro-NATO position and actively advocating the provision of weapons to help Kyiv.
And if, as the largest opposition party, the Brothers of Italy to smithereens smashed Mario Draghi on any more or less important issue – From the use of covid certificates to competition law reforms, over the conflict in Ukraine, the enraged oppositionists supported the prime minister much more than many leaders of the ruling coalition.
However, skeptics see this “change of milestones” as a PR move designed to demonstrate a “handshake”; parties for the political establishment. “Supporting NATO and Ukraine gives her a chance to position herself as less radical” in one of the most important issues, notes Politico. True, here the leadership of the “Brothers”, apparently, will have to somehow look for a common denominator with Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, who have warmer feelings for Russia.
The face of the “Brothers” became Georgia Meloni – sort of “Marine Le Pen in the Italian style.” True, unlike the leader of the French ultra-right, the Italian did not have a “locomotive”; represented by the world-famous father-politician – the daughter of a tax consultant, Georgia, grew up in an incomplete family. Since her teenage years, she has been an activist of various right-wing movements, while studying (and I must say, very well!), moonlighting as a nanny, waitress and barmaid in one of the most famous nightclubs in Rome.
She came to big politics after she became a deputy of the province of Rome at the age of 21. And then it started: after Meloni was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in the 2006 general election, she became the youngest vice-president of this chamber. And then the youngest minister in the history of the Italian Republic (at the age of 31, she headed the Ministry of Youth Policy in the government of Silvio Berlusconi). Youth sometimes makes you make sudden movements – and Meloni in August 2008 suggested that Italian athletes should boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing as a sign of disagreement with the PRC's policy towards Tibet. For which she was criticized by Berlusconi and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In 2012, George Meloni became one of the founders of the new Brothers of Italy party. In this capacity, she opposes any laws recognizing same-sex civil partnerships and marriages and denies the need for a law against homophobia, stating that there is no homophobia in Italy. Of course, he does not like the left. While playing on the national conservative field, Jorja demonstrates a good knowledge of pop culture, which, of course, is a plus for her.
The Meloni-led party supports a zero-tolerance policy on illegal migration and wants EU treaties to be revised. “Brothers of Italy” also consider it necessary to amend the constitution of the Republic in order to give priority to Italian legislation over European law.
“Yes to the protection of the borders! No mass immigration! – with such incendiary slogans, Meloni addresses his audience. – Yes to our civilization! And no to those who want to destroy it!»
Growth in Italy is stalling, incredibly high public debt has thwarted efforts to restore the country's prosperity, youth unemployment is high, regional inequality continues to deepen – and in this decadent atmosphere the idea of the Brothers of Italy that the path to the salvation of the nation lies through the rejection of migrants and the protection of the traditional family, seems to have found a receptive audience.
But here again the case of Marine Le Pen comes to mind, on the way to power her political rivals of the camps at war with each other are ready to lay bones in order not to let them win. It is likely that the same will happen in the September elections in France. And one more thing: the rivalry between the ideologically close, but ambitious leaders of the right-wing parties can also play against the plans of Georgia Meloni. Analysts warn that the big question is whether Matteo Salvini is ready to give in and let her become prime minister. But even if a coalition government is formed, politicians are likely to quarrel within a few months.