In the election campaign, the head of the post-fascist Fratelli d’Italia tried to stylize herself as a serious, conservative politician – especially for foreign countries. But in the end, Georgia Meloni dropped the mask several times.
Italians are voting for a new parliament this Sunday. Not only in Italy, but in the entire European Union, there is talk of a choice of destiny. For the first time in the history of the Italian Republic, the government could be led by a party with roots in fascism: Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right Fratelli d’Italia, has the best chance of becoming the new prime minister.
But who really is Meloni? And should she become the head of the government, in what direction would she lead Italy? Questions that are being asked in Italy, but also in Brussels, Berlin, Paris and Washington.
Fascism? does not exist
During the two months of the campaign, Meloni struggled to control her temper. He knows it’s both a blessing and a curse. Some love her and trust her precisely because she proclaims her message with body and soul from the stage, booming into the microphone: “I am a woman, a mother, a Christian.” Others see it as confirmation of their authoritarian character traits. That she knows she is walking on slippery ice was evident during the election campaign, when she presented herself as a conservative, serious and competent politician who, of course, has nothing to do with fascism.
In mid-August, she released a video message in English, French and Spanish announcing: “For decades, the Italian right has condemned fascism, the robbery of democracy and the infamous anti-Jewish laws. We also unequivocally condemn Nazism and Communism, which today represent the only totalitarian ideology of the 20th century still at power in some states.” The message was clear: fascism no longer exists, worldwide and certainly not in Italy.
At every opportunity she referred to her role as president of the EU-sceptic “European Conservatives and Reformists” party family, assured that she was not against the EU, but only wanted to push for Brussels to commit only to issues that affect the whole Union and all they leave the rest to the member states. Your party agreed to supply weapons to Ukraine and is 100% behind the North Atlantic Alliance.
Mask with jeans and t-shirt
She also tried to present herself as a credible politician in panel discussions, television interviews and online debates. For her performances, she maintains a casual style: jeans and T-shirts, long dresses and skirts. It cannot be ruled out that there is also a strategy behind it: the simpler its form, the more it is heard. Her alliance partner Matteo Salvini, head of the equally radical right-wing Lega party, does things quite differently. Salvini never misses an opportunity to dress up. He appears in a police polo shirt or dons a butcher’s apron. But Salvini is also a man – and so far he has only made it to the position of deputy prime minister. When appearing with other politicians, he prefers a strict, sometimes even old-fashioned outfit.
But the “post-fascist” label is too strong and the international media remain suspicious of them. The “Financial Times” wrote: “The Italians and Brussels must hope that their relatively moderate mask does not slip.”
“no more fun”
However, this happened during the election campaign: in the final spurt, the old Giorgia, who said in 2006 that she had a “relaxed relationship with fascism”, reappeared. Perhaps it was due to fatigue, the pressure of the Italian and foreign media, this constant vigilance. The fact is that she broke free from the voluntary reins and her announcements became more and more aggressive. “No more fun,” announced the EU. The left never defended Italy in Europe, but made it a pendant of Berlin and Paris. “But we want to be an equal member. To defend the interests of Italy,” she announced into the microphone, her arteries trembling. “Do you know why Berlin is against the gas price cap?” she asked her supporters in Milan. “Because they pay less for gas from Russia.”
In his last press conference, outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi warned the parties to choose the right partners in Europe. Meloni, inspired by the electoral success of the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats, encouraged Spanish right-wing extremists from the Vox party: “I hope that our victory will also pave the way for the center-right camp in Spain.” As for Hungary, which was stripped of its democratic status by the European Parliament a week ago, Meloni supported her party’s MPs who voted against the decision. Brussels is using “the rule of law as an ideological weapon to hit those who are not in line,” she announced.
In its current edition, the British “Economist” shows a photo of Meloni along with the question: “Should Europe be worried?” Draghi has already answered: “We have a certain idea of Europe, we defend the rule of law. We stand by Germany and France. I don’t know what the next government will do.”