Europe holds its breath as Italy is expected to vote on far-right leader Giorgia Meloni

Italians are voting in an election expected to introduce the country’s most radical right-wing government since the end of World War II, and a prime minister poised to become a model for nationalist parties around the world. Europe.

Coalition led by Georgia Meloni Italy brothersIt is a party with neo-fascist origins, which is expected by opinion polls before the vote to secure a comfortable victory in both houses of parliament with between 44 and 47% of the vote.

Meloni’s party is also set to receive the largest share of the vote within the coalition, which includes the far-right League, led by Matteo Salvini, and Forza Italia, headed by Silvio Berlusconiwhich means that she may become the first woman prime minister in Italy.

However, the alliance’s expected victory raises questions about state alliances in Europe as the continent enters a winter likely to be dominated by high energy prices and its response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Meloni has sought to send reassuring messages, but the prospect of her becoming prime minister is unlikely to be welcome in Paris or Berlin.

Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party warned last week that a victory would hurt European cooperation. Lars Klingbeil, head of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s SPD, said Meloni had sided with “anti-democratic” figures such as Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban.

Earlier this month, MEPs led by Meloni voted against a resolution Hungary condemned as a “hybrid system of electoral absolutism”. Meloni is also allied with Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice party, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats and the far-right Vox party in Spain.

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The controversial 45-year-old politician from Rome received an endorsement from Vox at the end of her campaign, and in response she said the two parties were linked by “mutual respect, friendship and loyalty” while he hoped the Brotherhood would win. Italia Vox will give some momentum in Spain.

Meloni has the ambition to represent a model not only for Italy, but for Europe – and 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. “It has connections with other conservative parties, who want a Europe with less civil rights…the model exists and so does the project.”

Mattia Delletti, a professor of politics at Sapienza University in Rome, said Meloni will win thanks to her ability to be ideological but pragmatic, which has allowed her to promote the French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, to a position in Western Europe. National model.

However, it is unlikely to rock the boat, at least initially, as it wants to secure continued cash flows under the EU’s €191.5bn (£166bn) Covid recovery plan, the largest in the EU. The coalition said it was not seeking to renegotiate the plan, but would like to make changes.

Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi, Georgia Meloni and Maurizio Lopi attend a political meeting organized by the right-wing political coalition on September 22 in Rome.
Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi, Georgia Meloni and Maurizio Lopi attend a political meeting organized by the right-wing political coalition in Rome on Thursday. Photography: Ricardo Fabi/NoorPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

“Mystery is the key to understanding Meloni,” Diletti said. She is really interested in bargaining with the EU on economic policy. But if the EU pushes her too much into the Italian government, she can always return to her safe zone as a right-wing populist leader. You will do whatever you want to stay in power.”

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Salvini’s possible return to the Interior Ministry would also dampen hopes of a breakthrough in the European Union’s long-stalled attempt to reform the immigration system by engaging asylum seekers across member states. Salvini, who has close ties to Le Pen, said he “cannot wait” to resume his policy of preventing migrant rescue ships from entering Italian ports.

Regarding Ukraine, Meloni condemned the Russian invasion and supported sending weapons to the war-torn country, but it remains unclear whether her government will support the eighth round of EU sanctions being discussed in Brussels. Salvini claimed the sanctions brought Italy to its knees, though he never blocked any EU action against Russia when he was in Mario Draghi’s broad coalition government, which collapsed in July.

Voting began at 7 a.m. on Sunday, and turnout was around 51.8% by 7 p.m. local time. The percentage of undecided voters was 25% before voting began, which means the right-wing coalition could win a smaller majority than pollsters originally suggested. A left-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party is expected to receive 22-27% of the vote.

It is also likely to play several seats in regions of southern Italy, such as Puglia and Calabria, after a small revival by the populist Five star movementwho regained support after promising to maintain his main policy, basic income, if the party returned to government.

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

“It is as if we are on a boat without a rudder,” said Carlo Rosso. All we heard during the election campaign was an exchange of insults between the various parties, not an exchange of ideas. And in moments of confusion like these, people vote for the one who appears to be the strongest.”

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Fausto Macari, who runs a newsstand, said he would not vote for the right but was unsure who would return. “The options are bad,” added McCurry, who is in his 60s. “For example, I looked at Berlusconi reminding me of a comedian. At his age, he should not be in politics. It would be like me, at my age, trying to become a footballer like Maradona.”

Many Italians who support Meloni do so because she has not yet been tried and tested in government, and are drawn to her determination and loyalty to her ideals.

“She presents herself as a capable woman, but not arrogant,” Urbinati said. “She gets things done and is dedicated, but without that masculine adrenaline that wants power at any cost.”

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