For Giorgia Meloni, leader of the ultra-conservative Fratelli d’Italia party, the outcome of the Italian legislative elections on Sunday, September 25 is no longer in doubt. “The Italians have sent a clear message in favor of a right-wing government led by Fratelli d’Italia”she said in a brief evening address to the press in Rome. “We will govern for all” the Italians, she promised. “We will do it with the aim of uniting the people”she added in a rallying and calming speech, acknowledging that the election campaign had been “violent and aggressive”.
All the indicators seem to confirm the victory of the far right in these elections, whose participation rate at the close of the polls was only 64.07%, against 73.86% in 2018.
By remaining in opposition to all the successive governments since the 2018 legislative elections, Fratelli d’Italia has established itself as the main alternative, rising from 4.3% of the vote to more than a quarter of the vote ( almost 26.50%), according to partial results provided by the Italian Ministry of the Interior.
The coalition formed by Fratelli d’Italia with the other far-right eurosceptic formation, the League of Matteo Salvini (9% of the vote), and the conservative party of Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia (8%) collects more than 44% votes after the counting of 90% of the constituencies.
With the complex game of the electoral system, this coalition should ensure the absolute majority of seats in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
Highest percentage for the far right since 1945
If these results were confirmed, Fratelli d’Italia and the League would win together “the highest percentage of votes ever recorded by far-right parties in the history of Western Europe from 1945 until today”noted the Italian Center for Electoral Studies.
The formation founded at the end of 2012 by Giorgia Meloni with dissidents from Berlusconism is ahead of the Democratic Party (PD) of Enrico Letta, which failed to generate a useful vote to block the far right and which obtains less than 20 % according to partial results. The 5 Star Movement (M5S, ex-antisystem) won less than 15% of the votes, down from its historic score of more than 30% in 2018.
The right-wing coalition has a “clear advantage both in the House and in the Senate”, rejoiced on Twitter Matteo Salvini.
The vice-president of the PD, Debora Seracchiani, recognized the “right-wing victory led by Giorgia Meloni”which marks “a sad evening for the country”.
This earthquake occurs two weeks after the one which, in Sweden, saw the victory of a conservative bloc including the Democrats of Sweden (SD), a party from the neo-Nazi movement which made a strong breakthrough, becoming the first right-wing party in the Nordic country.
“Lesson in humility”
In what was (mis)seen in Rome as a no-cost warning, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recalled that the European Union (EU) has « d’instruments » to sanction Member States that violate the rule of law and its common values. “The Italians offered a lesson in humility to the EU which, through the voice of Mme von der Leyen, claimed to dictate their vote”, pinged on Twitter the president of the French National Rally, Jordan Bardella.
Beasts of Brussels, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki sent, from Sunday evening, their ” congratulations “ to Giorgia Meloni. Mr. Orban, through his political director, deputy Balazs Orban, added this message: “We need friends more than ever who share a common vision and approach to Europe”.
Giorgia Meloni “showed the way to a proud and free Europe of sovereign nations”rejoiced for his part the leader of the far-right Spanish party Vox, Santiago Abascal.
A demonized image
Fratelli d’Italia owes its success as much to the broken promises of its adversaries and to the wind of “clearance” blowing on the Peninsula as to the charisma of its leader.
In pole position to become the first woman president of the Council, Giorgia Meloni, a 45-year-old Roman, who, as a young activist, said she admired Mussolini, managed to de-demonize his image and bring together the fears and anger of millions of people on her behalf. Italians faced with soaring prices, unemployment, the threat of recession or the neglect of public services.
In particular, the government will have to manage the crisis caused by galloping inflation, Italy already crumbling under a debt representing 150% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the highest ratio in the euro zone behind Greece.
In this country with chronic governmental instability, experts already agree on the short life expectancy of the victorious coalition, a marriage of convenience between three allies with competing ambitions. For Giorgia Meloni, “the challenge will be to transform its electoral success into government leadership that can be sustained, that is the great unknown”estimated Sunday evening, Lorenzo De Sio, professor of political science at the Luiss University of Rome.
Giorgia Meloni, with no government experience apart from a short-lived stint at the youth ministry (2008-2011), will have a lot to do managing her cumbersome, much more experienced allies: Silvio Berlusconi has been head of government several times and Matteo Salvini, minister Interior and Deputy Prime Minister.
In the Ukrainian file, Europe and the allies of Italy, a member of NATO, will also scrutinize the distribution of portfolios between the three parties. Because if Giorgia Meloni is an Atlanticist and supports the sanctions against Moscow, Mr. Salvini opposes them.