© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Giorgia Meloni, leader of Italy’s far-right Brotherhood party, speaks during a rally in Duomo square ahead of snap elections September 25, in Milan, Italy, September 11, 2022. REUTERS / Flavio Lo Scalzo /
By Crispian Balmer
ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s parliamentary elections on Sunday could make history, making the country the first female prime minister to head the most right-wing government since World War Two.
The Nationalist Brotherhood of Giorgia Meloni (FdI) of Italy won only 4% of the vote in 2018, but the party is expected to take around 25% this time around and foster a coalition of political parties. Conservative partners achieve a clear parliamentary majority.
“There’s this idea in Italy that we’ve tried everyone else, so try her now,” said Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of political risk consulting firm Teneo.
If Meloni’s tough talk succeeds, she will face a host of tough challenges, including soaring energy costs, stifling mountains of debt, a possible recession and increasingly dangerous conflict in Ukraine.
The 45-year-old from Rome, who is promising an immigration crackdown and tax cuts, will also have a big shoe to fill.
Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi, a widely respected former head of the European Central Bank, was seen by international investors as a reassuring figure, but he stepped down in July after a political election. mutiny in his government of national unity.
Unlike every other major party head, Meloni refused to join Draghi’s coalition and instead, her popularity skyrocketed from the opposition benches, where she staunchly denounced the painful measures. pain that the government has taken to address the COVID-19 crisis.
Piccoli said: “Meloni is a great communicator but faces significant economic constraints and doesn’t have much experience, so she probably won’t enjoy a long honeymoon.
Meloni could also end up with a much smaller majority than analysts forecast when the polls take effect on September 9, or even a bit short, paving the way for the kind of political turmoil. frequent outbreaks in Italy.
Ten days ago, the right-wing bloc, which includes Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, received about 45 percent of the vote – a score that would make them more than 60 percent of the total seats in parliament.
But since then, there has been much speculation that Salvini’s League, under constant attack because of its historically close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has faltered again while the Five-Star Movement describe resurgence.
Adding to the uncertainty, voters will elect a shrinking parliament with seats in the lower house falling to 400 from 630, while the Senate will drop to 200 from 315. This complicates efforts to forecast the outcome. fruit.
“One effect of reducing the number of seats in the Senate is the relatively small percentage to go from a large majority to a reduced majority,” said Lorenzo Pregliasco, head of the YouTrend poll. much.
The election campaign took place in the shadow of a sweltering summer, with no sign of much voter interest and no televised debate between the various party leaders.
The right-wing bloc has made old promises to cut taxes, reduce the pension age and prevent migrants from reaching Italy by boat from North Africa, with Meloni proposing a naval blockade to keep refugees out sea.
Opponents argue that such a move would be illegal and unenforceable.
5-Star has pledged to protect the welfare rights of the poor – a message that has resonated in the less affluent south, where leaders across the political spectrum have intertwined in recent days. here for fear of winning against an army of indecisive voters.
The center-left Democrats have repeatedly warned that the election of Meloni is dangerous due to the FdI’s neo-fascist roots and its ties to Hungary’s nationalist leader Viktor Orban, who has been impeached. The European Union alleges abuse of the rule of law.
Meloni has denied her own distant past, saying her group is as mainstream as Britain’s Conservative Party and staunchly supports Ukraine in its war with Russia.
But on the campaign trail, she was careful not to alienate core supporters aligned with the far right.
“I dream of a country where people who have had to bow their heads for years, pretending that they have different ideas so as not to be ostracized, can now say what they think,” she said in a statement. protests earlier in the week.
Voting takes place on Sunday from 7am to 11pm (0500-2100 GMT), with full results by Monday morning.
Even with a clear result, the next government is unlikely to take office before the end of October, with the new parliament not due to meet until October 13.