Europe holds its breath as Italy prepares to vote in far-right leader

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Italians are voting in an election that is projected to deliver the country’s most radical right-wing government since the end of World War II and a prime minister poised to be a model for nationalist parties across Europe.

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A coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, a party with neofascist roots, is expected to take 44 to 47% of the vote to secure a comfortable victory in both houses of parliament before the vote.

Meloni’s party is also set to win the largest share of votes within the coalition, which includes the far-right League led by Matteo Salvini and the Forza Italia headed by Silvio Berlusconi, meaning she is Italy’s first female head of state. You can become a minister.


The Coalition’s victory, however, raises questions about the country’s alliances in Europe, and while Meloni sought to send reassuring messages, his victory over power in Paris or Berlin is unlikely to be welcome.

Germany’s governing Social Democratic Party warned last week that his victory would be bad for European cooperation. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s SPD chairman Lars Klingbeil said Meloni had aligned himself with “democratic” figures such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

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Earlier this month, Meloni’s MEPs voted against a resolution condemning Hungary as “a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy”. Meloni is also associated with Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice Party, the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats and Spain’s far-right Vox Party.

The 45-year-old firebrand politician from Rome received an endorsement from Vox at the end of his campaign, saying in response that the two sides were bound by “mutual respect, friendship and loyalty”, while the hope of victory for the Italian brothers would yield Vox. . Some emphasis in Spain.

“Meloni has the ambition to represent a model not only for Italy, but for Europe – this is something new” [for the right in Italy] Compared to the past,” said Nadia Urbinati, a political theorist at Columbia University in New York and the University of Bologna. “She has contacts with other conservative parties who want a Europe with less civil rights… the model is there and so is the project “

Mattia Diletti, a professor of politics at Rome’s Sapienza University, said Meloni would win because of his ability to be ideological but practical, something that allowed him to elevate the French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, to the position of what became of Western Europe. has given. model for nationalism

However, she is unlikely to rock the boat, at least initially, as she seeks to secure a steady flow of cash under Italy’s €191.5bn (£166bn) EU COVID recovery plan, the largest in the EU. is big. The coalition has said it is not trying to renegotiate the plan, but would like to make changes.

Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi, Giorgia Meloni and Maurizio Lupi attend a political meeting organized by the right-wing political coalition in Rome on Thursday. Photograph: Ricardo Fabi/Nurphoto/REX/Shutterstock

“Vaguture is the key to understanding Meloni,” Diletti said. “She is really interested in negotiating a settlement with the EU over economic politics. But if the EU puts too much pressure on the Italian government, she can always return to her safe zone as a populist right-wing leader. She will do whatever she has to do to stay in power.

Salvini’s possible return to the interior ministry would also undermine hopes of success in a long-stalled effort to reform its migration system by sharing asylum seekers in EU member states. Salvini, who has close ties with Le Pen, said he “cannot wait” to resume his policy of preventing migrant rescue ships from entering Italian ports.

On Ukraine, Meloni has condemned Russia’s invasion and supported the sending of weapons to the war-torn country, but it is unclear whether his government will support the eighth round of EU sanctions being discussed in Brussels. Salvini has claimed the sanctions were bringing Italy to its knees, although he never blocked any EU measures against Russia in Mario Draghi’s broad coalition government, which fell in July.

Voting began at 7 am on Sunday and till the afternoon, the voter turnout was around 19 per cent. The undecided voter share was 25% before voting began, meaning the right-wing coalition could win a thinner majority than the polluters originally suggested. The Left coalition led by the Democratic Party is projected to get 22-27% of the vote.

Several seats in southern Italian regions, such as Puglia and Calabria, are potentially in play after a mini-revival by the populist Five Star Movement, which garnered support after promising to keep its key policy, basic income, if The party re-enters the government.

There was a steady stream of voters at a booth in Esquilino, a multicultural district in Rome, on Sunday morning, but the mood was gloomy.

“It’s like we’re on a boat without a rudder,” said Carlo Russo. “What we heard during the election campaign was exchange of insults between different parties instead of exchange of views. And in moments of confusion like this, people vote for the person who seems to be the strongest.”

Fausto McCarry, who runs the newspaper stand, said he would not vote for the right, but was not sure which one he would support. “The choices are bad,” said Macari, who is in his 60s. “For example, I look at Berlusconi and he reminds me of a comic character. At his age, he shouldn’t be doing politics. It would be like, at my age, I’m trying to be a footballer like Maradona. I have been.”

Many Italians who support Meloni are doing so because he is yet to be tried and tested in government, and are attracted by his determination and loyalty to his ideals.

“She presents herself as a capable, but arrogant woman,” said Urbinati. “She works and is dedicated, but without this manly adrenaline that wants power at all costs.”


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