EU worries about Italy

Brothers of Italy party has its roots in neo-fascism

Giorgia Meloni, likely to become the PM of Italy

The Economist neatly summarises a potential danger to the unity of the EU with the probable election this weekend of the most right-wing government in Italy’s post-war history.

A three-party alliance is expected to win more than 60% of the seats in parliament; the Brothers of Italy (FdI) looks set to dominate the trio, and its leader, Giorgia Meloni, to take over as prime minister.

The BBC reports that his Sunday, “100 years after Mussolini’s March on Rome, Italy is poised to opt for a leader from the hard right, whose Brothers of Italy party has its roots in neo-fascism. Polls in Italy are seen as very reliable indicators. Their key uncertainty appears to be the size of the nationalists’ victory”.

Famous for being small of stature but very loud of voice, Ms Meloni hammers away at illegal immigrants and “woke ideology”. Bankers fret that she will tangle with the European Union, go soft on reform and lose control of Italy’s mountainous debt stock ($2.7trn, or over 150% of GDP). And yet Ms Meloni has tried to soften her hardest edges. She no longer talks about scrapping the euro and she has committed herself to follow the reform plan drawn up by her predecessors and approved by the European Commission.

Although Ms Meloni gives European leaders plenty to be anxious about, they should calmly accept Italy’s democratic decision to elect her, while privately warning her how damaging to both Italy and the EU a falling-out would be.

The Economist

The BBC reports on her addressing a campaign rally just outside Naples, in the working town of Caserta, bellowing her economic promises at the nodding, cheering crowd. She would change Italy, she promised, investing in its strengths, standing up for its interests in Brussels, cracking down on uncontrolled immigration, protecting Italian families and the disadvantaged, while forcing those who can work off benefits.

Her supporters say “she makes sense”. While critics fret about her political roots, Ms Meloni knows the money in their pocket – or lack of it – is what Italians care most about right now.

Last election her party got 4% of the vote, now she’s angling for her country’s premiership. To attract more moderate voters, she’s tried to curate a conservative mainstream image. In an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper, Ms Meloni insisted there were no “nostalgic fascists, racists or anti-Semites in the Brothers of Italy DNA”, and that she had always got rid of “ambiguous people” from her party.

“Don’t be afraid,” she told the people of Caserta. But that’s exactly what voters should be, according to her political opponents.


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