Italy is campaigning for ‘the most far-right leader since Mussolini’ as outsider Giorgia Meloni leads exit polls in a surprise election win

ITALY is set to have its first far-right leader since Benito Mussolini as misfit Giorgia Meloni topped exit polls in a shocking twist.

The brothers of Italy, led by Meloni, 45, are expected to take office in a coalition with the far-right Lega and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.

Meloni's motto is "God, country and family"


Meloni’s motto is “God, Fatherland and Family”Photo credit: Reuters
The Brothers of Italy are to take office in a coalition with Berlusconi's Forza Italia


The Brothers of Italy are to take office in a coalition with Berlusconi’s Forza ItaliaPhoto credit: Getty Images – Getty
Meloni shared a clip of her holding two melons on election day


Meloni shared a clip of her holding two melons on election dayPhoto credit: tiktok

An exit poll by state broadcaster RAI found that the bloc of conservative parties, which also includes Matteo Salvini’s Liga and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, have gained between 41 and 45 percent enough to take control of both houses of parliament to guarantee.

Italy’s electoral law favors groups that manage to secure pre-election pacts, giving them an outsize number of seats relative to their vote numbers. Full results are expected by Monday morning.

Meloni, who campaigned under the motto “God, Country and Family,” hopes to become Italy’s first woman prime minister.

She tweeted, “Today you can help make history.”

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A few hours earlier, she shared a clip on Tiktok holding two melons — a pun on her last name — with the caption, “I said it all.”

The figures show that turnout was lower than in the 2018 election.

Many voters are expected to vote for Meloni, “the novelty, the only leader that Italians haven’t tried yet,” said Wolfango Piccoli of consultancy Teneo.

Brussels and markets are watching closely amid concerns that Italy – a founding member of the European Union – could become the latest country to veer to the far right less than two weeks after outperforming the far right in Sweden’s general election.

If she wins, Meloni will take over as her country battles rampant inflation and a wintry energy crisis linked to the conflict in Ukraine.

Italy’s economy, the third-largest in the eurozone, rebounded from the pandemic but is burdened with debt equivalent to 150 percent of gross domestic product.

The Brothers of Italy, which has its roots in the post-fascist movement founded by supporters of dictator Mussolini, received just four percent of the vote in 2018 and has never been in power.

Meloni, whose own governing experience is limited to a ministerial post in the 2008 Berlusconi government, has devoted her campaign to trying to prove she is up to the challenge.

She has softened her views over the years, notably abandoning her calls for Italy to leave the EU’s single currency.

However, she insists that her country must stand up for its national interests and support Hungary in its rule of law battles with Brussels.

Her coalition wants to renegotiate the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund, arguing that the nearly €200 billion that Italy is to receive should take into account the energy crisis, exacerbated by the Ukraine war.

But “Italy cannot afford to withhold these sums,” said political sociologist Marc Lazar, meaning Meloni actually has “very limited leeway”.

The funds are tied to a series of reforms just begun by outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who called snap elections in July after his national unity coalition collapsed.

Despite her Euroscepticism, Meloni strongly supports EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, although her allies are another matter.

Berlusconi, the billionaire former prime minister and longtime friend of Vladimir Putin, faced an outcry this week after he claimed the Russian president was “pushed” into the war by his entourage.

Meloni, a straight-talking Roman raised by a single mother in a working-class neighborhood, railed against what she calls “LGBT lobbies,” “awakened ideology,” and “the violence of Islam.”

She has vowed to stop the tens of thousands of migrants arriving on Italy’s shores each year, a position she shares with Salvini, who is currently on trial for blocking rescue ships for charity as interior minister in 2019.

The centre-left Democratic Party says Meloni is a threat to democracy.

She also claims her government poses a serious risk to hard-won rights like abortion and ignores global warming, despite Italy being on the front lines of the climate emergency.

On the economy, Meloni’s coalition promises to cut taxes while increasing social spending, regardless of the cost.

The latest opinion polls two weeks before Election Day showed that one in four voters supported Meloni, but around 20 percent of voters were undecided.

In particular, support for the populist Five Star Movement appears to be growing in the poor South.

The next government is unlikely to take office before the second half of October. Italy is campaigning for ‘the most far-right leader since Mussolini’ as outsider Giorgia Meloni leads exit polls in a surprise election win


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