Italy on the verge of becoming a far-right leader as the country votes in snap elections

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Italy turns right with FDI's Georgia Meloni
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Giorgia Meloni, leader of the right-wing Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party holds a giant Italian national flag during a political rally on February 24, 2018 in Milan, Italy.

Emmanuel Cremaschi | Getty Images

Italians head to the polls on Sunday in a nationwide vote that could name the country’s first female prime minister and the first far-right-led government since the end of World War II.

Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party was established in 2012, but has its roots in the 20th-century Italian neo-fascist movement that emerged after the death of fascist leader Benito Mussolini in 1945.

After winning 4% of the vote in the 2018 election, he used his opposition position to break into the mainstream. The Brothers of Italy party is expected to win the largest share of votes for a single party on Sunday. Polls prior to the September 9 blackout showed he won almost 25% of the vote, far ahead of his closest right-wing ally, the Lega.

Forming a coalition with Lega, under Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and a more minor coalition partner, Noi Moderati, it seems likely that the right-wing alliance will win power in Rome. Italy’s complicated first-past-the-post system rewards coalitions and the centre-left Democratic Party has failed to build a sufficiently broad alliance despite polling 21% as the single party.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time and will close at 11 p.m. An exit ballot is scheduled when the polls close, but the first screenings may not arrive until Monday morning. Reaching a political consensus and cementing any coalition could then take weeks and a new government might not come to power until October.

Incumbent Mario Draghi, a highly regarded technocrat who was driven out by infighting in July, has agreed to stay on as caretaker. Sunday’s snap elections come six months ahead of their scheduled date.

Brothers of Italy chimed in with sections of the public worried about immigration (Italy is the destination of many migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean), the country’s relationship with the EU and the economy.

In terms of politics, Brothers of Italy has often been described as “neo-fascist” or “post-fascist”, its politics echoing the nationalist, nativist and anti-immigration stance of Italy’s fascist era. For his part, however, Meloni claims to have rid the party of fascist elements, saying this summer that the Italian right had “put fascism back in history for decades”.

Yet its policies are socially conservative to say the least, with the party opposing same-sex marriage and promoting traditional “family values”, with Meloni declaring in 2019 that its mission was to defend “God, country and family”.

A volunteer prepares pink ballot papers at a polling station in Rome’

Andreas Solaro | AFP | Getty Images

As for Europe, Fratelli d’Italia has reversed his opposition to the euro, but defends a reform of the EU to make it less bureaucratic and less influential on domestic politics. On the economic side, he referred to the centre-right coalition’s position that the next government should reduce sales taxes on certain goods to ease the cost of living crisis, and said the Italy is expected to renegotiate its Covid-19 recovery funds with the EU.

Fratelli d’Italia has been pro-NATO and pro-Ukraine and supports sanctions against Russia, unlike Lega who is ambivalent about such measures. Meloni has been described as something of a political chameleon by some, with analysts noting shifts in her political stance over time.

Italy On The Verge Of Becoming A Far-Right Leader As The Country Votes In Snap Elections

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