Italy shifts to the right as voters commend Meloni’s party


A party with neo-fascist roots, the Italian Brothers, which have won the most votes in national elections in Italy, is seeking to introduce the country’s first far-right government since. World War II and put its leader, Giorgia Meloni, the first Italian woman topped, the latest results showed Monday.

Italy’s move to the right instantly changed Europe’s geopolitics, putting a European skeptic at the helm of a founding member of the European Union and its third-largest economy. . Right-wing leaders across Europe immediately hailed Meloni’s victory and her party’s meteoric rise as sending a historic message to Brussels, while Italy’s left-wing warned of “these attacks.” dark days” ahead and vowed to keep Italy at the heart of Europe.

The most recent results showed the center-right coalition winning about 44 percent of the parliamentary vote, with the Brothers of Meloni in Italy winning about 26 percent. Her coalition partners split the rest, with Matteo Salvini’s Anti-Immigration League winning 9% and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s more moderate Forza Italia about 8%.

The center-left Democrats and its allies have around 26%, while the 5-Star Movement – which garnered the most votes in the 2018 congressional elections – saw a Their vote halved to 15% around this time. .

Voter turnout was a historic low of 64%. Polls suggest voters stay home to protest, frustrated by the defensive arrangements that have produced the last three governments.

Meloni, whose party follows the roots of the neo-fascist, post-war Italian Social Movement, tried to strike a unified tone in a victory speech early Monday, noting that Italians were finally able to identify their leaders.

“If we are called to run this country, we will do it for all, we will do it for all Italians and we will do it with the aim of uniting the people.” people,” Meloni said. “Italy chose us. We won’t betray it like we never have.”

While the centre-right is the clear winner, the formation of a government is still weeks away and will include consultations between party leaders and with President Sergio Mattarella. Meanwhile, outgoing Premier League boss Mario Draghi remains in a caretaker role.

The elections, which come about six months early after the fall of Draghi’s government, come at a critical time for Europe as it faces Russia’s war in Ukraine and energy costs The high rise involved has affected ordinary Italian pockets as well as the industry.

A government led by Meloni is expected to largely follow Italy’s current foreign policy, including her pro-NATO stance and strong support for supplying Ukraine with weapons to defend against aggression. Russia’s strategy, even if her allies take a slightly different view.

Both Berlusconi and Salvini have ties to Russian President Putin. While both have distanced themselves from their invasion, Salvini has warned that sanctions against Moscow are hurting Italian industry, and even Berlusconi has defended Putin’s invasion as by pro-Moscow separatists in the Donbas.

A larger shift and potentially friction with European powers could be due to migration. Meloni has called for a naval blockade to prevent migrant boats from leaving North African shores, and suggested screening potential asylum seekers in Africa, before they board the boats of incoming smugglers. Europe.

Salvini made it clear that he wanted the Federation to return to the interior ministry, where as minister he had imposed a tough anti-migrant policy. But he could face an internal leadership challenge after the League suffered poor results below 10%, with Meloni’s party outperforming its northeast stronghold.

Salvini admitted the League was punished for its executive alliance with the 5-Stars and then Draghi, but said: “It’s a good day for Italy because it has five stable years ahead.”

Regarding the relationship with the European Union, analysts note that for all of his Euro-skeptic rhetoric, Meloni moderated his campaign messaging and had a lot to do with it. little room to maneuver amid the economic backdrop that Italy is receiving from Brussels in coronavirus recovery funds. Italy has secured around 191.5 billion euros, the largest part of the EU’s 750 billion euro recovery package, and is bound by a number of investment and reform milestones it must achieve in order to receive it all. .

That said, Meloni has criticized the EU’s recent recommendation to suspend €7.5 billion in funding to Hungary over fears of a democratic setback, defending Viktor Orban as leader. elected leaders in a democratic system.

Orban’s political director, Balazs Orban, was among the first to congratulate Meloni. “In these difficult times, we need more than ever friends who share the same vision and approach to Europe’s challenges,” he wrote on Twitter.

France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen praised Meloni for “resisting the threats of an anti-democratic and arrogant European Union.”

Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain’s far-right opposition Vox party, tweeted that Meloni “showed the way for a free and free Europe of sovereign states, able to cooperate on behalf of everyone’s security and prosperity.”

Meloni is the chair of the Conservative and Reform European Right group in the European Parliament, bringing together her Brothers in Italy, Poland’s Law and Justice Party, Spain’s Vox and the Democratic Party. Sweden, just won an election there on a rift platform of crime reduction and immigration restrictions.

“Trends that emerged two weeks ago in Sweden have been confirmed in Italy,” conceded Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta, calling Monday a “sad day for Italy, for Europe.”

“We look forward to dark days. We fought by all means to avoid this outcome,” Letta said at a somber press conference. While acknowledging the future of the party and his own requires reflection, he vowed: “The PD will not allow Italy to leave the heart of Europe.”

Thomas Christiansen, professor of political science at Rome’s Luiss University and executive editor of the Journal of European Integration, notes that Italy has traditionally pursued a consistent European foreign policy and in some way greater than the interests of individual parties.

“Anything Meloni can do will have to be moderated by her coalition partners and indeed with an established consensus in Italian foreign policy,” Christiansen said in an interview. .

Meloni proudly presents her roots as a fighter in the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, or MSI, founded in the aftermath of World War II with the remnants of Mussolini’s fascist supporters. . Meloni joined in 1992 at the age of 15.

During the campaign, Meloni was forced to respond after the Democrats used her party roots to paint Meloni as a danger to democracy.

She said in a multilingual campaign video: “The Italian right has turned fascism to history for decades, clearly condemning the suppression of democracy and disgraceful anti-Semitic laws. “.


Colleen Barry contributed from Milan

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