Giorgia Meloni: The far

To the right of Matteo Salvini, a new figure is attracting the attention of the international press: Giorgia Meloni, the president of the Brothers of Italy. Contrary to homosexual marriage, with an anti-immigration discourse similar to that of the League, and positioning herself in opposition to the now defunct government of Mario Draghi, the far-right deputy has been in politics for years, amassing a leadership not only on the peninsula, but also in the continent.

Coordinating the extreme right of the EU from the Party of European Conservatives and Reformists (a group she has chaired since 2020), the Italian journalist has participated in different events, rubbing shoulders with members of Vox in Spain and being backed by politicians such as the Prime Minister from Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki.

Already at a convention of her party, in May, she made her priorities clear: stop African migration with a naval blockade and review environmental objectives, given that, according to her, “we cannot afford the ecological transition imposed by Greta Thunberg”. This vision is what, for the moment, could lead Meloni to be the first woman to hold the position of prime minister in Italy.

Roman by birth, Meloni entered the Youth Front at the age of 15, which were then the youth of the post-fascist Italian Social Movement, founded after World War II by followers of Mussolini. Thus, going through student and university politics, she arrived in 1998 at the position of councilor of the province of Rome. She arrived in Congress in 2006, and in between was Minister of Youth during the last government of Silvio Berlusconi, between 2008 and 2011. From there, together with Ignazio La Russa and Guido Crosetto, they founded the Brothers of Italy party (Fratelli d’Italia, as the first verse of the national anthem), of which she became president in 2014.

But its prominence rose in 2021, with the arrival of Mario Draghi’s “Government of National Unity”: in this, both the right-wing parties, represented by Forza Italia and the League, as well as the center-left Democratic Party and the populist 5-Star Movement , gave themselves a truce to arm a majority that would allow them to govern. And in the face of this agreement, which seemed transversal, the Brothers of Italy decided to stand aside.

At 45 years old, Meloni has built her reputation fighting the “cultural battles” of the right, speaking above all about migration and her opposition to the rights of LGBT people. During a speech in Andalusia, supporting the Vox candidates, she spoke of “gender ideology”, according to which “the disappearance of women” and the “end of motherhood” are sought. On the same occasion, she referred to the “universality of the cross”, to the detriment of “Islamist violence”.

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, in Florence, on September 18, 2020. Photo: Reuters

Unlike other leaders of the European right, his strategy towards Brussels is characterized not so much by his hostility, but rather his commitment – or, at least, agreement – with the European institutions. In that sense, with the Party of European Conservatives and Reformists he backed the Maltese conservative Roberta Metsola as president of the European Parliament. With that, Meloni was able to appoint a representative of his party as vice president.

In the same way, some media have read in his latest plays a certain step “from radicalism to respectability”, in order to seduce the voters of the traditional and center right. Especially after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Meloni did not hesitate to show himself in favor of NATO and the invaded country, in something that his co-religionists usually did not embrace with such enthusiasm. Indeed, it is a change in her relationship with Vladimir Putin, whose victory in Russia’s 2018 presidential election she celebrated, saying he represented “the unequivocal will of the Russian people.”

With a view to the early general elections that will take place in Italy, his party has the advantage for the first time. According to the Politico portal, which compiles an average of all the polls, the Italian Brothers account for 23% of the voting intentions, against 22% for the Democratic Party. The League, an ally and at the same time a rival on the right, has considerably lowered its support during these years, reaching 15%, followed by the 5 Star Movement, which takes 12%.

Together with the Forza Italia party, which has 8%, the far-right parties would be at the gates of the Chigi Palace, the residence of the country’s prime minister. And if the Brothers of Italy are the most voted, Meloni could perfectly come to occupy the position of the resigned Draghi.

Former Italian Prime Minister and Forza Italia party leader Silvio Berlusconi reacts at the end of a meeting with League leader Matteo Salvini and Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni in Rome on October 20, 2019. 2021. Photo: Reuters

Matteo Salvini, for his part, seems to have lost his moment: after allying himself with the 5 Star Movement in the first government of Giuseppe Conte, and supporting the Draghi government from the League, his most incendiary far-right speech subsided. In that, Meloni entered to fill that space that Salvini was leaving.

Already in September this rivalry in view of alliance was rising, and at the Ambrosetti Forum, an annual international economic conference organized by the European Assembly and held in Italy, Meloni and Salvini staged a curious image, smiling and embracing in front of a lake, promising to rule together in the future. Back then, it was being decided which matches entered Draghi’s majority: “We made a different decision. We have made two decisions that we believe in, which are exhausting for both of us. One being outside with full rights, the other preferring to stay inside, reasoning about national reconstruction. I am not saying what is good and what is bad, the facts and the Italians will judge it”, said the leader of the League at the time. Almost a year later, it seems that the scales tip in Meloni’s favor.

After the Italian President Sergio Mattarella dissolved Parliament this Thursday, the path for early elections is written: they must be held on September 25, with a view to having a new Legislative that forms a new government. And with the wind on his side, Meloni already assured in May: “We are ready to set sail. It is a new trip, the one that will take the ideas of the conservatives to the government”.

Giorgia Meloni: The far-right deputy who aspires to be the next premier of Italy