Italy Welcomes Giorgia Meloni as New Prime Minister

By: Chak Kai Wong

On October 22rd, 2022, Giorgia Meloni was inaugurated as Italy’s new prime minister at Sala dei Galeoni (Galleon Room). There, the former Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Meloni held a confidential handover ceremony, welcoming her to the office. She became the first female PM in Italy’s history and her tenure invites a wave of speculation from the global communities as Meloni’s successful bid for prime minister represents a wider trend of resurging far right nationalist movements across the world.

Giorgia Meloni was born in Rome in 1977. Growing up as a working class girl in a southern neighborhood of Rome, she has been associated with far-right political organizations for her entire political career. She joined the Italian Social Movement, a neo-facist conservative party at the age of 15. In the 2022 election, her party, Brothers of Italy, and the center-right coalition government it formed won a total of 237 seats in the 400-seat Chamber of Deputies. Meloni ran with a platform involving lower taxes, less European Union bureaucracy, and the blockade of illegal immigration, depicting herself as champion of the Italian nationalist movement and promising to put her country’s interest first.

Meloni has often been criticized for her stance against abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and preference for zero-tolerance immigration policy. She has also proposed to use a naval blockade to prevent immigration from Libya. Earlier in the election cycle, she outlined her agenda as the prime minister of Italy. “Yes to the natural family, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology… no to Islamist violence, yes to secure borders, no to mass migration… no to big international finance… no to the bureaucrats of Brussels!” said Meloni in a campaign speech. 

The most controversial aspect of Meloni’s party is her association with the neo-facist movement. She has self-characterized as a right-wing populist, and has expressed mixed claims about her involvement in the movement. In an interview held when she was 19, she praised the former Facist dictator Benito Mussolini. “He is a good politician, in that everything he did, he did for Italy … [Mussolini] is the best politician of the last 50 years,” said Meloni to the newscast.  

Since her confirmation for the prime minister, however, most experts believe that she will be held accountable by the center-right faction in her government and she will lead Italy in a style similar to the Conservative Party in the U.K. and the Republican Party in the U.S. “Her party is not fascist,” said  Gianluca Passarelli, a professor of political science at Rome’s Sapienza University. 

“Fascism means to get power and destroy the system. She won’t do that and she couldn’t. But there are wings in the party linked to the neo-fascist movement. She has always played somehow in-between,” added Passarelli.

The far-right nationalist victory in Italy is not a coincidence, but a miniature of a worldwide surge of conversative politicians such as Viktor Orbán in Hungry and Marine Le Pen in France. Especially in Europe, where stagnating economy and inflexible social structure has led to national discontent on immigration and progressive agenda as well as appreciation for conservative, nationalistic values. “[Meloni] wants a ‘Europe of nations’, so everyone is basically alone. Italy could become the Trojan horse of Putin to undermine solidarity, so she would enable him to continue weakening Europe,” warned Passarelli.

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