How Giorgia Meloni and her far-right party became a driving force in Italian politics


Rome
CNN
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When Georgia Meloni appeared on the political scene in 2006 as the youngest vice-president of the National Alliance party, she sealed her fate as a far-right politician.

The National Alliance, formerly the Italian Social Movement, was staunchly neo-fascist, formed by supporters of Benito Mussolini. Meloni herself openly admired the dictator as a youth, but later distanced herself from his brand of fascism – despite keeping the tricolor flame symbolizing eternal fire at his grave in the logo of the Brothers of Italy, the party that she later co-founded. in 2012.

Now the 45-year-old ultra-conservative single mother looks likely to become Italy’s first female prime minister.

His far-right Brothers of Italy party, which leads the pack ahead of the September 25 general election, won just 4.5% of the vote in the last election in 2018.

Her popularity has skyrocketed since then, in large part because she has kept herself in the limelight with an active social media presence and kept her party on the message, never straying from a conservative agenda that challenges LGBT rights, abortion rights and immigration. police officers

His was also the only mainstream party not to join the unity government formed by Mario Draghi after the fall of Giuseppe Conte’s administration in 2021, instead demanding new elections rather than another technocratic solution. When Draghi’s government in turn collapsed in julySunday’s snap elections have been called.

Former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon (left) arrives with Giorgia Meloni to attend an Italy Brothers party convention in Rome on September 22, 2018.

Sweetheart of the global conservative movement, Meloni was a favorite protege of Republican strategist Steve Bannon, who headlined his party conferences in Italy before the Covid-19 pandemic and his own legal problems. Bannon recently endorsed her again, saying in a statement to CNN, “Meloni, like Thatcher, she will fight and win.”

Meloni spoke at several US C-Pac conventions, telling the group in 2022 that conservatives were under attack.

“We (conservatives) are proud of our identities, of what we stand for. We live in a time when everything it stands for is under attack: our individual freedom is under attack, our rights are under attack, the sovereignty of our nations is under attack. under attack, the prosperity and well-being of our families are under attack, our children’s education is under attack. In the face of this, people understand that in this time, the only way to be rebellious is to preserve who we are , the only way to be rebellious is to be conservative,” she said.

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

Silvio Berlusconi of Forza Italia and Giorgia Meloni of the Italian Brotherhood salute their supporters after a joint rally with Italy's far-right League Against the Government party on October 19, 2019 in Rome.

Meloni represents a growing number of conservative Italians who agree with his ideals of the traditional family that aligns with their powerful Catholic Church.

She is outspokenly anti-LBGT, threatening that same-sex unions, which were legalized in Italy in 2016, are under consideration.

She also called abortion a “tragedy” and the regions of Italy where her party is in power have already experienced restrictions on abortion and a lack of services, including failure to comply with a national policy that allowing clinics to provide the abortion pill and only allowing abortions up to seven weeks, including the mandatory one-week waiting period for a woman to ‘consider’ her decision – while the guidelines national plans provide for 9 weeks.

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

She trains regularly with Salvini, whose popularity continues to decline. For the 2018 election, she was his junior partner in the centre-right alliance. This time around she is in charge and has hinted that, if elected, she may not give Salvini a ministerial portfolio, which would deprive him of the power to bring down his government.

Silvio Berlusconi, Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini greet supporters at the end of a rally against the Italian government in San Giovanni square on October 19, 2019 in Rome, Italy.

She differs from both Salvini and Berlusconi on a number of issues, including Ukraine, and has no ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, unlike her electoral partners, who have said they would like to see the sanctions against Russia because of their impact on the Italian economy. . Meloni has instead been unwavering in his support for Ukraine’s defense.

The prospect of a female leader in a traditionally male-dominated country has some wondering if she will be judged by a different set of rules than her male counterparts.

“We’ve never had a female prime minister. I think we’re definitely ready for that. Long overdue, I would add as well,” Dario Fabbri, political analyst and editor-in-chief of political magazine Domino, told CNN. “But how the whole society will receive it is something I don’t know. It is something unknown for her and for us.

Emiliana De Blasio, a diversity and inclusion advisor at LUISS University of Rome, told CNN that Meloni’s politics are more important than her gender, but she hasn’t proven herself to be d first a feminist.

“We have to reflect on the fact that Giorgia Meloni does not raise all the questions about women’s rights and empowerment in general,” she said.

Fabbri acknowledges that it might be easier for Meloni to gain acceptance on the world stage than in Italy, where only 49% of women work outside, according to the World Economic Forum’s gender survey.

β€œIt will depend on how she acts. How she presents herself to world leaders. , she hasn’t made a lot of gaffes in this election campaign,” he told CNN.

“But of course being the head of government is something very different. So I think the way she will be received will not have much to do with the prejudices towards Italy but with the way in which she will present herself to world leaders.