"I am Giorgia" has been the main slogan of the electoral rallies of Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far right party Brothers of Italy (BI-Fratelli d'Italia) and the undisputed winner of the last Italian political elections dragging the center-right block to the top of the rankings. Meloni will be the leader of the new government and the first female Prime Minister in the history of Italy.
- Early elections and the rise of center-right
That of September 25 was a call for snap elections following the government crisis which de-legitimized the technocratic government of Mario Draghi. It is precisely the opposition to Draghi government triumphing in Italy today. The center-right coalition led by Meloni stands above 44% of the parliamentary vote, with the Brothers of Italy taking over 26%. The Lega collapsed to 9% and Forza Italia to 8% while the center-left shows many criticalities with not reaching 27%. The Democratic Party is below 20%, the Green and Left Alliance exceeds the 3% threshold, an objective which is not reached Europe and Luigi Di Maio's Civic Commitment. The 5 Star Movement performs well with 15% while Action-Italia Viva stands below 8%. Although the voter turnout was low, that only 63.91% of those entitled to vote went to the polls and exceeds the data of the 2018 elections (73,01%), there is no doubt that Italy is preparing to write a new page of history.
Giorgia Meloni, who has attracted an increasing popular support over the years going from an initial 1.96% up to an outdated 26%, has contributed to the transformation of her party. With a background in right-wing groups recalling the spirit of fascism, Brothers of Italy was born as an ideological movement, which has become a political organization with a strong social base in the center-south of Italy in recent years, until it has newly imposed itself as a national party. It got many sympathies in the north, where instead the League shows deep defiance.
- Responsibility in Italy and Europe
With a spirit of "pride and redemption in a complex situation", Giorgia Meloni underlines "the need of uniting Italy". Silvio Berlusconi echoes her, coming into play with his reinforced Forza Italy (FI), which played a decisive role in the center-right block, in terms of both percentages and seats. The pro-European and international inclination of Berlusconi's party will probably contribute to the formation of a leading government called to address national issues as well as to reaffirm its role in Europe. Silvio Berlusconi is sure about this end, aiming at the leadership of the Senate, stands as the "architect of the new government". Regarding the major international issues, and especially in reference to the Russian-Ukrainian war, Forza Italia's line is to make Italy as a key player, by getting aligned to China, Türkiye, India, which are perceived as committed to end the "hostilities", as Maurizo Gasparri states. Indeed, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is of a great importance for the next government's ability to face the energy crisis and to deal with price increasing depends on resolution of the conflict.
Despite her extremely nationalist and sovereign character, in the electoral campaign Giorgia Meloni has softened the tone, demonstrating a more convinced Europeanism. The feeling is that she has aligned herself with Mario Draghi on many fronts, who will most likely play a key role behind the scenes. The urgency of the new government, in fact, is to give guarantee and reassure Europe regarding the use of funds aimed at recovery and as strategic stance at regional and international level. Nevertheless, Italy must pursue the objectives of the Recovery and Resilience Plan. Last June, the second tranche of the funds was financed, amounting to 21 billion euros, which are requested to be implemented in projects useful for reinforcing reforms and investments in Italy after the Covid-19 stalemate.
Currently, Meloni's language has transformed which maintains a strong patriotism and nationalism in national rhetoric while flaunting a certain Europeanism and Westernism, with a clear anchorage to America, although oriented on republican and namely on Trump’s values when it comes to international issues. In other words, it seems that ideology is destined to give way to, which aims to guarantee a certain continuity on economic and social questions within the European frame. A critical point, however, could be raised regarding the Treaty of Quirinal, which is intended to strengthen the axis with France, especially in terms of defense and could instead have a different destiny. The sentiment welcoming the victory of Meloni and her coalition is evident in some circles in Europe. "The Italian people have decided to take back their destiny by electing a patriotic and sovereign government" -wrote the leader of the Rassemblement National, Marine Le Pen in a tweet. On the other hand, the criticism towards European sovereignty concern Brussels. "Italy is a country that is very friendly to Europe, inhabited by citizens who are very friendly to Europe and we expect this not to change" was stated by Olaf Scholz's spokesperson, Wolfgang Buechner.
- De Facto winners, losers and challenges
The great crisis experienced by the left coalition and especially by the Democratic Party (PD) can be traced to programmatic, political and leadership mistakes. However, the worrying amount of lost votes is mainly attributable to the fact that the 5-Star Movement has opposed to enter the alliance. Another factor is the lack of agreement with the so called "Third Pole" and namely with Action, the party created to continue the policies of Draghi, led by Carlo Calenda who sadly stated: "The task of stopping the rights and to go on with Draghi has not been accomplished". In a scenario where the leftist parties are losing ground, however, the Five Star Movement, although the loss of supports, marks a success, as the general expectation was that the Movement would be below 10%. Indeed, Conte's group defended itself very well in the southern regions, also thanks to making "Reddito di Cittadinanza" (Citizenship income) a pivoting policy of his program.
It is clear that on September 25 the vote of the Italians was guided by the feeling of precariousness and by the energy crisis, with the relative risk of closing business activities and rising prices which indicate the urgency of bringing the interest of Italy back to the fore. Moreover, the dimension of abstention, the sentiment towards the political class and also the tendency to bandwagoning had a role in Giorgia Meloni’s success, who now has the responsibility to cope with all the challenges.
By Valeria Giannotta
- The writer is an Italian academic expert on Political Science and International relations. She is the scientific director of Observatory in Türkiye by CeSPI.