How Giorgia Meloni and her far-right party became the powerhouse of Italian politics

The National Alliance, formerly the Italian Social Movement, was unapologetically neo-fascist, made up of supporters of Benito Mussolini. Meloni himself clearly admired the dictator in his youth, but later distanced himself from his brand of fascism — despite retaining the tricolor flame that symbolizes the eternal flame of his grave in the logo of the Italian Brothers, he collaborated on the party. It was discovered in 2012.

Now the 45-year-old ultra-conservative single mother is set to become Italy’s prime minister.

His far-right Brothers of Italy party, which is leading in the polls for the September 25 general election, won just 4.5% of the vote in the last election in 2018.

His popularity has soared since then, largely because he’s stayed in the limelight with an active social media presence, and because he’s kept his party on message without straying from a conservative agenda that questions LGBT rights, abortion rights and immigration. policies

His was also the only major party not to join Mario Draghi’s unity government after the fall of Giuseppe Conte’s administration in 2021, calling for new elections rather than another technocratic fix. When Draghi’s government fell in July, the Sunday elections began.
A darling of the global conservative movement, Meloni was a favorite protégé of Republican strategist Steve Bannon, who chaired his party’s conferences in Italy before the Covid-19 pandemic and his legal troubles. Bannon recently agreed again, saying in a statement to CNN: “Meloni, like Thatcher, will fight and win.”
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Meloni has spoken at several C-Pac conventions in the US, telling the group that conservatives are under attack in 2022.

“We (conservatives) are proud of our identity, of what we stand for. We live in a time where everything is under attack: our individual freedom is under attack, our rights are under attack, the sovereignty of our nations is under attack, the prosperity and well-being of our families is under attack, the attack on our children’s education. In the face of this, people understand that the only way to be rebellious in this day and age is to take care of what we are, the only way. To be rebellious is to be conservative,” he said.

He was raised by a single mother in Rome’s left-wing Garbatella district, far from the tourist attractions of the capital’s center. A group of elderly men sitting on a park bench in the neighborhood’s central square shook their heads at the mention of his name. “It doesn’t represent me,” cafe owner Marizio Tagliani told CNN. “It doesn’t represent this neighborhood.”

Silvio Berlusconi of Forza Italia and Giorgia Meloni of Brothers of Italy acknowledge supporters at the end of a joint anti-government rally with Italy's far-right League party in Rome on October 19, 2019.

Meloni has a growing number of Italian conservatives who agree with his ideals of the traditional family, which are in harmony with his powerful Catholic Church.

He is openly anti-LBGT, threatening to review same-sex unions, which were legalized in Italy in 2016.

He has called abortion a “tragedy” and the Italian regions where his party is in power have already seen abortion restrictions and a lack of services, including not adhering to a national policy that allows clinics to provide the abortion pill and allowing only abortions. up to seven weeks, including a mandatory one-week waiting period for a woman to “reflect” on her decision – while national guidelines set 9 weeks.

His partners in Italy’s center-right political alliance, Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, are also partly responsible for his popularity. Berlusconi appointed him sports minister in the 2008 government, making him the youngest minister to hold that position.

He regularly engages with Salvini, whose popularity is steadily declining. For the 2018 election, he was his junior partner in the center-right alliance. This time, he is in charge, and has indicated that, if elected, Salvini may not give him a ministerial portfolio, which would deprive him of the power to remove his government.

Silvio Berlusconi, Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini greet supporters at the end of an anti-government rally in San Giovanni Square on October 19, 2019 in Rome, Italy.

He differs from Salvini and Berlusconi on a number of issues, including Ukraine, and has no ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, unlike his fellow voters, has said he wants to review sanctions against Russia over their impact on Italy’s economy. . Meloni, instead, has been adamant about defending Ukraine.

The prospect of a female leader in a traditionally male-dominated country makes her wonder if she will be judged by a different set of rules than her peers.

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“We’ve never had a female prime minister. I think we’re definitely ready for that. It’s been a long time, I might add,” Dario Fabbri, political analyst and editor of Domino politics magazine, told CNN. “But I don’t know how the whole society will welcome him. That is unknown to him and to us.”

Emiliana De Blasio, diversity and inclusion adviser at Rome’s LUISS University, told CNN that Meloni’s politics are more important than her gender, but that she has not proven that she is a feminist in the first place.

“We have to think about the fact that Giorgia Meloni does not raise any questions about women’s rights and empowerment in general,” he said.

Fabbri admits it may be easier for Meloni to gain global acceptance than in Italy, where only 49% of women work outside the home, according to the World Economic Forum’s gender survey.

“It will depend on how he will act. How he will present himself to world leaders. I think he has walked a very thin line in terms of his image, his past positions on many issues, and so far” I have made many mistakes in this election campaign, “he told CNN.

“But, of course, being at the head of the government is very different. So I think that the way he will be received will not have much to do with prejudices against Italy, but how he will be presented to world leaders.”