The newspaper “Repubblica” shocked its predominantly left-liberal readership this week with the report that Giorgia Meloni was already preparing her list of ministers, which she would present to President Sergio Mattarella after the elections. The news may be a bit premature.
But there is no doubt that the 45-year-old Roman woman now has the best chance of succeeding Mario Draghi and thus becoming the first woman to head the Italian government. Your party leads with 20 to 22 percent in all polls, level with or slightly ahead of the social democratic PD.
Most importantly, the Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) are well ahead of their allies, Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. As much as it may annoy the two machos Salvini and Berlusconi: Giorgia Meloni has long been the undisputed queen of the right in Italy.
From her point of view, the spirited politician who pulled the strings behind the legal camp when Draghi was overthrown has done everything right in recent years. After the parliamentary elections won by the populist Five Star Movement and the xenophobic Lega in 2018, she went into opposition from the start. She has followed this strategy to this day.
After the installation of Draghi’s national unity government 17 months ago, the Fratelli d’Italia were the only remaining opposition party of any weight. In this way, Meloni channeled the anger of all right-wing voters who were dissatisfied with Draghi and the two governing parties, Lega and Forza Italia, onto their own political mills.
Exactly one hundred years after Benito Mussolini’s March on Rome and his seizure of power on October 30, 1922, the government is likely to be taken over by a personality who has built his entire political career in the mists of the various post-fascist parties and groups.
Growing up in the “red” Roman workers’ quarter of Garbatella, Giorgia Meloni joined the Fronte della Gioventù (“Youth Front”) of the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) at the age of 15. She later politicized in the Alleanza Nazionale by Gianfranco Fini, who committed the post-fascists to democracy and enabled them to govern. In 2008, under Silvio Berlusconi, at the age of 31, Meloni became Minister of Youth and Sport.
Their sympathizers include Mussolini nostalgics and former neo-fascist thugs. During their campaign appearances, the “Roman salute” can be seen regularly, which corresponds to the Hitler salute in Nazi Germany. Meloni, on the other hand, presents himself as a modern and emancipated woman and mother who has little in common with the die-hard Mussolini supporters and has both feet on the ground of the democratic constitutional state.
But she doesn’t really want to distance herself from the past: “With the Fratelli d’Italia there is no place for racists, anti-Semites and neo-Nazis,” she recently explained. It is no coincidence that the fascists are missing from the list of undesirables, and they certainly have a place. All she says about fascism is that it “must be seen in the context of history”.
One of Meloni’s strengths is a certain political straightforwardness. Unlike its allies Salvini and Berlusconi, it does not change its position with every new poll. This was demonstrated, for example, by the Russian attack on Ukraine. Trump admirer Meloni was a staunch Atlanticist even before the war, and she remained so when the Italian population began to have doubts about the sanctions and arms deliveries.
If the right wins the election, conflicts with Putin’s two friends Salvini and Berlusconi are unavoidable. Of course, Meloni is also consistent in her chauvinistic rhetoric against the EU – on this point there will be great harmony in the future government.
Another weapon of Meloni’s is her polished mouth, even if she occasionally seems grim and her voice sometimes gets a tad too dashing. That’s what happened to her again these days, after Salvini and Berlusconi voted no confidence in Draghi in the Senate. In her joy and triumph, Meloni grew know-it-all.
You have always said that a government of national unity cannot work and can’t get anything done. “When we voted for the opposition, everyone said to us: We’re going to end up in the gutter, and now…” She was able to resist the completion of the sentence. It would have read: And now the Palazzo Chigi, the seat of the Prime Minister, is waiting for us.