Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing bloc wins Italian elections

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A coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s arch-conservative Brotherhood of Italy won a decisive victory in Italy’s snap election, putting it in a position to form the country’s first far-right-led government since World War II.

Claiming victory, Meloni, who is set to become Italy’s first female prime minister since Italian unification in 1861, struck a restrained tone, acknowledging the serious challenges ahead.

“We haven’t arrived – it’s a starting point,” she told supporters at a hotel in Rome. “As of tomorrow, we must demonstrate what we are worth. It’s time for responsibility, we won’t betray Italy. . . We will govern this nation on behalf of all.

The coalition led by Meloni, with Matteo Salvini’s Nationalist League and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, won just over 43% of the vote, enough to give him a comfortable parliamentary majority, the channel projected. Rai public television.

The bloc beat rivals who failed to forge a unified front to compete more effectively in an electoral system in which one-third of seats are won in first-past-the-post ballots. This favors parties that form pre-election coalitions and unite behind single candidates in those constituencies.

However, the coalition seems to have failed to achieve the two-thirds majority it would need to amend the Italian constitution.

Brethren of Italy, a scion of the post-World War II neo-fascist movement formed by Benito Mussolini’s loyalists, won more than a quarter of the vote, a remarkable performance for a party that won only 4% of the votes in the 2018 election.

Meloni recalled the daunting odds when she split from Berlusconi’s party to launch Brothers of Italy in 2012.

At the time, “I quoted a phrase from Saint Francis: ‘start doing what is necessary, then what is possible. In the end, you will find yourself able to do the impossible, she recalls. “That’s what we’ve done now.”

The results will put Meloni in a strong position with his coalition partners after the League and Forza Italia won around 9 and 8 percent, respectively, according to projections.

The left-wing Democratic Party, which won nearly 20% of the vote, conceded defeat and said it would lead the opposition in parliament.

Analysts have warned that Meloni’s support may prove fleeting given the severe hurdles ahead.

“If you look at the last 30 years, there’s been a succession of people selling themselves as new, getting attention for a while, generally struggling to deliver, and then people getting angry. electorate is quickly moving on to someone else,” said Daniele Albertazzi, a politics professor at the University of Surrey.

The election has been closely watched in Brussels and Washington, where policymakers are worried about what the new government will mean for Rome’s relationship with the EU and Italy’s approach to the war in Ukraine. .

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi took a strong stance against the Russian invasion and helped craft tough EU sanctions against Moscow. Meloni also strongly criticized the invasion and pledged to maintain a tough approach to Russia.

But the opinions of its partners are more ambiguous. Salvini, a longtime admirer of Putin, has complained about the toll the sanctions have taken on Italian families and businesses.

Berlusconi, who turns 86 on Thursday, appeared to justify the invasion, saying Putin had simply wanted to replace President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Kyiv government with “decent people”.

In a note shortly after polls closed on Sunday evening, Moody’s, the ratings agency, noted that Italy’s mountain of public debt – estimated at around 150% of gross domestic product – was “vulnerable to negative growth, at the cost of financing and the evolution of inflation”. ”.

Despite all the intense international attention on the result, Italians themselves were less than enthusiastic about the election.

The final turnout was just 64%, well below the previous high of 73% in 2018.

“The perception is whether you vote or not, nothing really changes and all politicians are equal,” said Valerio Alfonso Bruno, a fellow at Britain’s Center for Radical Right Analysis. “A lot of Italians see politics this way, that if we have Meloni this time, really nothing new will happen.”

The right-wing coalition promised Italians to provide five years of stable and effective government. Despite the bloc’s majority, analysts have warned of turbulence due to personal rivalries between the three leaders, particularly Salvini’s fading resentment of the ascendant Meloni.

“I don’t think we’ll have another election anytime soon, but we’re going to see constant fighting,” Albertazzi said. “Government life is highly unlikely to be quiet and simple.”

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