The eyes of the world on Italy as it goes to the polls
By Susy Hodges
Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli di Italia or Brothers of Italy party is the leading force in a right-wing alliance that includes Matteo Salvini’s Lega party and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.
Meloni’s party was projected to win 25% of the vote in this election which marks a meteoric rise from the 4% share her party won in the last general election in 2018.
This election was being held six months early after the national unity government led by Mario Draghi collapsed in July following political in-fighting.
In the run-up to the vote, Meloni was helped by the failure of left-leaning and centre parties to form an alliance despite several attempts by the leading left-wing Democratic Party, (PD).
Meloni has played down her party’s post-fascist roots and portrays it as a mainstream conservative group but her campaign motto “God, fatherland and family” is an old slogan adopted by the fascists.
She has campaigned against gay rights lobbies and called for a naval blockade of Libya to halt immigration by boat to Italy.
On Russia, Meloni backs western sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine and more recently she has softened her past criticisms of the European Union.
But there are divisions between Meloni and her two allies on the issue of the Ukraine conflict. Salvini has criticised western sanctions against Moscow, calling them ineffective whilst Berlusconi sparked anger in recent days when he appeared to defend the invasion of Ukraine saying Russian President Vladimir Putin had been “pushed” into the conflict. Both men have had close links to Putin in recent years.
Whilst much of the campaign was dominated by rows over Russia’s war and Europe, surveys showed that the overriding concern for most voters is the soaring cost of energy.
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