RTL Today – Seismic political change: Giorgia Meloni’s far-right triumphs in Italy’s vote

Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni said on Monday she was ready to govern for “all Italians” after her Eurosceptic populists swept to victory in the general election, putting her on track to guide Italy’s most powerful government. on the right since World War II.

According to projections, about one in four voters in Sunday’s election backed Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots.

But the party leads a coalition that should win a majority in parliament.

Its success represents a seismic shift in Italy, a founding member of the European Union and the eurozone’s third-largest economy – and for the EU, just weeks after the far-right’s election victory in Sweden.

Meloni, who campaigned on the motto “God, Fatherland and Family”, is set to become Italy’s first female prime minister, although the process of forming a new government could take weeks.

At a time of rampant inflation, looming energy crisis and war in Ukraine, the 45-year-old sought to reassure those who worried about her lack of experience and radical background.

Meloni said voters sent a “clear message” of support for his party to lead their right-wing coalition to power.

“If we are called to govern this nation, we will do so for all Italians. We will do so with the aim of uniting people, of highlighting what unites them rather than what divides them,” he said. she told reporters.

His coalition allies, Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, are lagging in the polls.

But together they needed to win around 43%, enough to secure a majority in both houses of parliament.

Full results are not expected until Monday, but the centre-left Democratic Party, the coalition’s main rival, conceded, saying it was a “sad” day.

Turnout fell to an all-time low of around 64%, about nine points lower than in the last election in 2018.

– “Europe proud and free” –

Meloni no longer wants Italy to leave the eurozone, but says Rome needs to assert its interests more and has policies that appear set to challenge Brussels on everything from public spending rules to mass migration.

Congratulations came quickly from his nationalist allies across the continent, from Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to Spain’s far-right Vox party.

“Meloni has shown the way to a proud and free Europe of sovereign nations,” tweeted Vox frontman Santiago Abascal.

Meloni has led opinion polls since Prime Minister Mario Draghi called a snap election in July following the collapse of his national unity government.

His was the only party not to join Draghi’s coalition when, in February 2021, the former head of the European Central Bank was parachuted in to lead a country still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

From a “very aggressive” opposition strategy under Draghi, Meloni then chose a “very cautious, very reassuring campaign”, Lorenzo De Sio, head of the Italian center for electoral studies CISE, told AFP.

“His challenge will be to turn this electoral success into leadership in power … that can last,” he said.

Italian politics is notoriously unstable, with nearly 70 governments since 1946, and Meloni, Salvini and Berlusconi don’t always agree.

Meloni’s “dissatisfied and essentially defeated allies” would likely be a “problem”, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said.

La Liga and Forza Italia seemed to have performed poorly, taking 8% each, compared to 17 and 14% respectively in 2018.

As the provisional results emerged, Salvini hailed the coalition victory, tweeting “Grazie! (Thank you!)” while Berlusconi called Meloni to congratulate her.

– Ukrainian support –

Brothers of Italy has its roots in the post-fascist movement founded by supporters of Benito Mussolini, and Meloni herself praised the dictator when she was young.

She has sought to distance herself from the past by making her party a political force, rising from just 4% of the vote in 2018 to Sunday’s projected triumph.

His coalition campaigned on a platform of low taxes, an end to mass immigration and Catholic family values, which critics say will see a reversal of hard-won rights such as abortion.

An outspoken Roman raised by a single mother, Meloni rails against what she calls “LGBT lobbies”, “woke ideology” and “Islamic violence”.

The coalition also wants to renegotiate the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund, arguing that the nearly 200 billion euros ($193 billion) Italy is expected to receive should factor in the energy crisis.

But the funds are tied to a series of reforms just begun by Draghi, and analysts say she has limited room to manoeuvre.

Despite his Euroscepticism, Meloni strongly supports EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

However Berlusconi, the billionaire former prime minister who has long been friends with Vladimir Putin, faced an outcry last week after suggesting the Russian president had been “pushed” into war by those around him.

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