What does Giorgia Meloni’s win mean for Italy and for Europe?

What does Giorgia Meloni’s win mean for Italy and for Europe?
FILE PHOTO: Leader of Italy’s nationalist Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia) party and frontrunner to become prime minister Giorgia Meloni, holds a closing rally in Naples, Italy, September 23, 2022. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

Recently, Europe has witnessed a rise in the popularity of far-right politics. In 2017, the anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany first gained seats in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag. And a party described as having “neo-nazi roots" won more than 20% of the vote in a Swedish election earlier this month. These political gains suggest that anti-immigrant sentiment has become stronger across the region.

A few days ago, Italy voted in its first female leader, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. She’s a member and co-founder of the Brothers of Italy, a party rooted in the post-World War II neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, or MSI. The party’s logo includes a red, white and green flame that is a remnant of the MSI and often associated with fascism, but Meloni denies that the party has fascist ideals.

One of Meloni’s campaign platforms was creating a naval blockade to patrol the Mediterranean and stop “illegal immigrants" from entering Italy. She’s also spoken about removing Italy from participating in the euro and the EU. Her conservative views on “traditional" families, ties to pro-life organizations and stance against the “LGBT lobby" and “gender ideology" have many people worried about her election. However, her supporters see her as a patriotic newcomer who will shake things up, and many compare her popularity in Italy to Trump’s popularity in the US.

Key comments:

“Her policy platform will be familiar to those who have followed far-right rhetoric in recent years: She’s openly questioned LGBTQ+ and abortion rights, aims to curb immigration, and appears obsessed with the idea that traditional values and ways of life are under attack because of everything from globalization to same sex marriage," CNN’s Luke McGee wrote.

“The Italian right has handed fascism over to history for decades now, unambiguously condemning the suppression of democracy and the ignominious anti-Jewish laws," Meloni said in a campaign video.

“Yes to the natural family. No to the LGBT lobby. Yes to sexual identity. No to gender ideology," Meloni was quoted as saying at a political rally in Spain.

“You don’t have to look very hard for signs. Fully a quarter of all manhole covers in Rome still have the fasces on them," said Rutgers University professor T. Corey Brennan, referring to Italy’s failure to address its fascist past.

“The main reason why she’s leading in the polls is because she’s perceived as the one that was not in power for the last 10 years," said political writer Federico Fubini.