Italy voters shift sharply, reward Meloni’s far-right party

In a victory speech, Italy’s far-right leader Giorgia Meloni adopted a dovish tone after a prediction based on votes counted from two-thirds of polling points showed Italy’s Brotherhood party ahead of the polls. over other candidates in Sunday’s vote.

“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 (of this country),” Meloni said at her party’s headquarters in Rome. .

“Italy chose us,” she said, “We will not betray (the country) like we never have.”

Forming a governing coalition, with the help of Meloni’s right-wing and centre-right allies, could take weeks. If Meloni, 45, succeeds, she will be the first woman to serve as the country’s prime minister.

The Italian president launched the task of trying to form a government after consulting with party leaders.

Meanwhile, former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, whose government collapsed two months ago, remains in a caretaker role.

The differences between Meloni’s potential alliance partners can be seen clearly.

She has firmly advocated supplying Ukraine with weapons to defend itself against Russian aggression. In contrast, right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini, who before the war was a staunch admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, voiced concern that Western sanctions could ultimately hurt to Italy’s economic interests rather than punishing Russia.

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, another longtime Putin fan, has said that his participation in a coalition of the centre-right bloc will ensure that Italy stays firmly in the European Union and is one of the most trusted members of the block.

With Italian households and businesses struggling with surprisingly high energy bills as winter approaches, Meloni has fallen short of Salvini’s push to raise tens of billions of euros for Italy. already heavily indebted to bail out energy.

The eurozone’s third-largest economy may be being closely watched for what kind of government, given Meloni’s criticism of “brussels officials” and her ties to other right-wing leaders. She recently defended Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after the European Commission recommended suspending billions of euros in funding to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding and the EU’s ability to manage money.

After opinion polls suggested she would win, Meloni began censoring her message about “God, motherland and family” in an apparent attempt to reassure the European Union and its opponents. other international partners, worry about the euro- skepticism.

“It’s time to take responsibility,” Meloni said, appearing live on television and describing the situation in Italy and the European Union as “particularly complicated”.

She promised to comment in more detail on Monday. During her election campaign, she criticized European Union officials for being overly bureaucratic and vowed to protect Italy’s national interests if they clashed with EU policies.

Predictions based on votes counted from nearly two-thirds of the polling stations in Sunday’s vote show Meloni’s Brotherhood of Italy party will win about 25.7% of the vote.

This compares with 19.3% for the nearest challenger, former Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s centre-left Democratic Party. Salvini’s federation is projected to win 8.6% of the vote, almost half what he obtained in the last 2018 election. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, apparently won 8%.

Meloni’s meteoric rise in the European Union’s third-largest economy comes at a critical time, as much of the continent is reeling from soaring energy bills in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine and the West’s resolve to unite against Russian aggression are being tested. In the most recent election, in 2018, Meloni’s party took 4.4 percent.

Fellow European politicians were among the first to celebrate. The party of French politician Marine Le Pen also hailed the result as a “lesson in humility” for the EU.

Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain’s far-right opposition Vox party, tweeted that “millions of Europeans are pinning their hopes on Italy. security and prosperity. “

Voter turnout was 64%, according to the Interior Ministry, as eligible voters dropped polling stations in batches. This is much lower than the previous record low voter turnout, 73% in 2018.

Italy has had three coalition governments since the last election – each led by a non-candidate and that appears to have alienated many voters, pollsters said.

Meloni’s party was born from the legacy of a neo-fascist party founded shortly after the war by nostalgia for the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Italy’s complicated electoral law rewards campaign coalitions. Meloni rose to prominence in the campaign with Salvini and Berlusconi.

The Democrats went to the vote at a huge disadvantage because they failed to secure a similarly broad coalition with the leftist populists of the Five Star Movement, the largest party in the recently concluded legislature. end.

Led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the 5-Stars appear to have finished in third place, with about 16% of the vote. If they join forces in a running deal with the Democrats, their coalition will be roughly equal in proportion to Meloni’s coalition.

Sunday’s elections come six months early after Draghi’s pandemic unity government, which was widely loved by the people, collapsed in late July after the parties of Salvini, Berlusconi and Conte resigned denied support in a vote of confidence.

Meloni kept her Brotherhood party in opposition, refusing to join Draghi’s unity government or the two previous coalitions led by Conte.

This story has been published from the electronic agency’s feed with no modifications to the text.

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