Source: The American Conservative
If women ran the world, we’ve been told, then there’d be no war, no poverty, no hunger. Unless that woman is Giorgia Meloni. Then it’s a ten-alarm fire because “fascism” has returned to the Stivale.
Meloni is likely to become Italy’s next prime minister following a large election victory on Monday. She’d be the first female to hold the post in the nation’s history, for whoever cares about details like that. Much more interesting, however, is if Meloni will be able to put the populist message that propelled her and the Brothers of Italy to victory into action, or if she will be just another Italian populist swallowed up by Italy’s expansive bureaucracy and the machinations of the Italian political system.
It will still be several weeks before the next Italian parliament is installed and the new prime minister officially chosen. So while it is not a fait accompli that Meloni will be the next prime minister of Italy, she certainly has the inside track, given the Brothers of Italy received 26 percent of the vote share—more than any other political party. Furthermore, the three-party right wing coalition Meloni heads, which includes the Brothers of Italy, Forza Italia, and the League, managed to capture 44 percent of the vote.
Meloni’s rise has been nothing short of meteoric. Just four years ago in the 2018 general elections, the Brothers of Italy—which Meloni co-founded with two peers in 2012 after becoming the youngest minister in Silvio Berlusconi’s government—attracted just 4.4 percent of the vote for the Chamber of Deputies and 4.3 percent of the vote for the Senate. Meloni and the Brothers of Italy’s success as of late is the result of clever political gamesmanship over the past four years, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged Italy in the spring of 2020, and a clear, no-nonsense message leading up to the election.
Previous blunders from other right-wing leaders also assisted in Meloni becoming the clear leader of the three party coalition in the 2022 election. After the populist Five Star Movement, started by comedian Beppe Grillo, captured just under a third of the vote share, besting a coalition of three conservative parties in the 2018 elections, it partnered with Matteo Salvini’s League party to form a coalition government. Giuseppe Conte, an academic and independent, was chosen as the government’s prime minister in a deal brokered by the parties that now found themselves in alliance.
Initially, the combination was powerful. The Five Star’s program of populist economic reform at home, and the League’s focus on preventing illegal immigration, namely from African ships shuttling migrants across the Mediterranean, made Conte’s government incredibly popular. Since immigration had been on the forefront of Italian politics since the Syrian refugee crisis, and migration’s known downstream effects on labor markets and domestic economies, the League’s focus on immigration became far and away the most popular portion of the government’s agenda. So popular, in fact, that Salvini sought a no-confidence vote against Conte, hoping to capitalize on the League’s massive popularity and supplant Conte as prime minister.
It was a grievous error. The Five-Star Movement partnered with the center-left Democratic Party, and the League’s migrant policies were replaced by policies more suitable for the new government’s coalition partners. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, former Prime Minister and Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi called for an overhaul of Conte’s Covid-19 recovery plan—calls that Conte ignored. Renzi then withdrew ministers from Conte’s cabinet, which eventually forced Conte’s resignation.
Conte’s replacement was Mario Draghi, the former president of the European Central Bank. Even more peculiar, however, was that after a tumultuous three years of public infighting among the parties that made up Conte’s governments, the left was able to convince every party to support Draghi’s government. All except for one: Meloni’s Brothers of Italy.
Meloni’s gamble paid off. Draghi quickly became unpopular because of his incoherent Covid-19 strategy and his embrace of vaccine passports required for work. Meloni was the only leader on the right with the political will and capital to oppose Draghi’s Covid-19 policies, though she privately maintained good relations with the Italian prime minister.
When election season came back around, Meloni had more name recognition than ever before, and the public perceived her as the foil to Draghi.
Giovanni Giacalone, a contributor to The American Conservative, told TAC via email that being opposite of Draghi was a massive advantage for Meloni. “Despite all the propaganda made by the mainstream media in support of Draghi, most Italians were strongly against his policies, as…made evident by street demonstrations such as the ‘No Draghi Day’ and many others like the ones organized throughout this past winter against the compulsive vaccinations and the restrictions targeting those who refused to receive the shot,” Giacalone said. “Keep in mind that Draghi was not an elected leader; nobody ever voted for him or his ‘unity government’. In theory, the government was formed with the objective of taking Italy out of the pandemic. In practice, his government only made things worse as the interests of the Italian people were neglected.”
“Giorgia Meloni spoke against these measures and said that she will not introduce any health pass or forced vaccinations and she will also establish a commission of inquiry on the work of the previous government in relation to the health issue,” Giacalone went on to say. “In my point of view this is one big reason why Giorgia Meloni won.”
Other than being opposite of Draghi with respect to Covid-19, Meloni’s chief pitch was as a defender of the family and traditional Italian values. She spoke plainly about her past, growing up working class in Rome by her single mother after her father abandoned her family. Meloni, a mother of one fathered by her long-time partner Andrea Giambruno, extolled the virtues of motherhood and child rearing.”We need to give incentives for birth,” Meloni said at a rally in the closing days of the campaign, “because today someone who brings a child into the world is doing a valuable thing for society as a whole, and the state should be grateful to this person.” She contrasted the traditional Italian family to the evils of the “LGBT lobby,” “gender ideology,” and “mass immigration,” adding that “the secularism of the left and radical Islam threaten our roots,” those roots being the Western, Christian tradition.
While Meloni is not an advocate for leaving the E.U. or abandoning the Euro, unlike some other right-wing populists in the country’s recent memory, all she wants for her country in terms of foreign affairs is for it to be “strong, serious and respected on the international stage.”
In one of her final interviews before the election, Meloni said an election victory would be “redemption” for the people who “for decades had to keep their heads down,” longing for an “alternative vision from the mainstream of the system of power.”
The message is simple: strong families, a strong country, and no more insanity. Nevertheless, these views held by Italians and people the world over, have been shamed by our globalist elite class. All the people needed to buck their supposed moral betters was for a politician to come along and unapologetically defend normal.
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But questions still remain as to whether or not Meloni will be capable of governing in the way she talked about on the campaign trail. Meloni has become popular on Twitter among conservatives for her rhetoric on the campaign trail, but for Italians, simply being anti-woke is not enough. Defeating the woke scourge takes more than tough talk. It requires a governing agenda that recognizes the class-based roots of these ideologies. Certainly, Meloni’s working-class background—in her youth, she worked as a nanny, a bartender, and a waitress—makes this class-based rejection of wokeism intuitive.
As a politician, however, Meloni’s record is mixed. She is still hesitant to sever ties with Brussels, from which the cutting edge of progressive thinking is codified, institutionalized, and crammed down the throats of member states. This, even though European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “If things go in a difficult direction [in Italy], I’ve spoken about Hungary and Poland, we have tools,” just days before the election. Meloni also wants to strengthen Italy’s relationship with the United States, given Italy is protected under the U.S. nuclear umbrella thanks to NATO. Not to mention she is extremely hawkish on Ukraine for an Italian politician.
It’s best to remain skeptical. Meloni’s reforms could very well get derailed by the Italian administrative state, or even her own political allies. Worse still, Meloni’s efforts to maintain relationships with institutions and governments that actively attempt to tear down the way of life that defines her burgeoning political movement could bring about its downfall—potentially for good.