Giorgia Meloni May Lead Italy, and Europe Is Worried

CAGLIARI, Sardinia – Giorgia Meloni, the hard-line leader of a party with post-fascist roots and a favorite to become Italy’s next prime minister after this month’s elections, is known for her posts. rhetoric, thunderous timbre and ferocious speeches that infuriate gay-rights lobbyists, European officials and illegal migrants.

But she suddenly softened when asked one recent evening if she agreed, all warnings aside, to the historic consensus that Fascist leader Benito Mussolini – whom she admires young as a “good politician” – was evil and bad. for Italy.

“That’s right,” she said, almost inaudibly, between sips of Aperol Spritz and smoking a thin cigarette during an interview in Sardinia, where she completed a high-decibel political rally other.

That simple syllable says a lot about Ms. Meloni’s campaign to reassure a global audience as she looks poised to become the first politician of post-Fascist descent to run Italy since… World War II ended.

Such a feat would have seemed unthinkable not long ago, and to succeed Mrs Meloni – who will also make history as the first woman to lead Italy – is keeping the balance. on an important thread, convincing her hardline base of “patriots” that she hasn’t changed, while trying to convince international skeptics that she is not a polarizer. convinced, that the past is the past, not the prologue, and that Italy’s mostly moderate voters trust her, so they should too.

On September 25, Italians will vote in national elections for the first time since 2018. In those years, three governments of wildly different political complications have come and gone, politically. The final government was a broad national unity government led by Mario Draghi, a technocrat. personifies pro-European stability.

Ms. Meloni led the only major party, the Brotherhood of Italy, to stay out of that unity government, allowing her to suck up the opposition’s votes. Her support in the polls has steadily increased from 4% in 2018 to 25% in a country where even moderate voters have become numb to the Nazi-Communist designation, but still enthusiastic about new and providential leaders.

Ms. Meloni said her soaring popularity did not mean the country had “turned to extremes”, but simply that it had become more comfortable with her and confident in its viability. even as she tried to reposition herself closer to the European mainstream.

Ms. Meloni, whose campaign slogan is “Ready”, has become a staunch supporter of NATO and Ukraine and has said she supports the European Union and the euro.

Global markets and the European base remain vigilant. Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, said recently about the threat Meloni’s union poses to EU values. Most recently last month, she called on the navy to blockade the migrants. She described the European Union as an accomplice to “The project to replace the ethnicity of European citizens is desired by major capitals and international speculators. “

In the past, she has described the euro as the “wrong currency” and supported Viktor Orban of Hungary, Marine Le Pen of France and illiberal democracies in Eastern Europe. She praised the “Brussels officials” and “messengers” of George Soros, a favorite minion of conspiracy theorists and nationalist rightsists describing a world run by financiers Jewish International.

There are still fears that, once in power, Ms. Meloni will throw away her pro-European fleece and reveal her nationalist fangs – back to protectionism, giving in to coalition partners worshiping his Putin, overturning gay rights and eroding EU liberal rules.

International investors and global leaders are wrong to be “scared,” says Meloni, who is warm and easygoing in private as well as being serious in public. Even in the midst of a heated election campaign, she rejected bait from a desperate leader of the divided Italian left who had sounded the “alarm bells for Italian democracy”.

“They will accuse me of being a fascist all my life,” Ms. Meloni said. “But I don’t care because in any case the Italians don’t believe in this garbage anymore.”

She is moving red meat rations to her establishment (mass immigration is “a tool in the hands of the great powers” to weaken workers, she growled in Cagliari) and is trying to mend a rift with other right-wing leaders she is running in a coalition.

Her main ally, Matteo Salvini, became a hard-right darling in 2018 when he turned his once separatist north-based League party into a nationalist force. But Ms Meloni said far-right voters “have come home, because I’m from that culture, so no one can do it better than me”.

Even so, Mr. Salvini created problems for Ms. Meloni by urging a review of sanctions against Russia.

Ms Meloni admitted that her other coalition partner, Silvio Berlusconi, the famous former prime minister who named the bed after Russian President Putin of Russia, had made her “difficult as a woman” during the scandal. Bunga Bunga sex with young women. , when she was a young woman in his palace.

She suspects none of her partners want a woman in charge.

“I’d say, ‘No, it doesn’t matter if I’m a woman,’” Ms. Meloni said. “But I’m not sure about that anymore.”

But when it comes to being a woman in politics, Ms. Meloni has leaned forward. Her beauty of Roman authenticity and her escalatory and forceful style have become part of Italy’s popular and political landscape.

In 2019, her staunch defense of the traditional family and against LGBTQ marriage and adoption – while a childless mother herself – prompted DJs to mock one of the Her furious chorus, “I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am Christian,” comes to a beat. It has spread. Mrs. Meloni used it as a calling card. She titled her bestseller “I Am Giorgia.”

Ms. Meloni grew up without a father, who when she was a toddler sailed to the Canary Islands, where she studied Spanish during summer visits. After a fire she and her sister accidentally started, her mother, who used to write romance novels for a living, moves the family into the working-class and left-leaning Garbatella neighborhood of Rome.

Ms. Meloni is overweight and introverted, but a 15-year-old fan of fantasy books (and Michael Jackson, whom she says she learned her English well) has found something she loves. It’s called the second family in the far-right Youth Front. of the post-fascist Italian Social Movement.

She sees herself as a soldier in Rome’s perpetual, often violent, and sometimes fatal ideological wars between Communist and post-Fascist extremists, where everything from the game football to high school is politicized. Her party leader had come to Israel to renounce the crimes of Fascism at the same time as she was rising rapidly, later to become the republic’s youngest minister.

But as populism swept into Italy in the last decade, Ms. Meloni adopted harsher tones and created the latest iteration of the far-right, Italy’s brethren. She said she resented its members being portrayed as “nostalgic idiots”, because she worked hard to purge the Nazis and build a new history.

Salvini, she turned her social media accounts into populist pasta on the wall as she desperately sought traction. In the town of Vinci, she accused the French of trying to treat Leonardo da Vinci as their own. She went to a grappa distillery to call the then president of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker, a drunkard. She warned of an “empire” of “aggressors” including President Emmanuel Macron of France, Angela Merkel of Germany, Mr Soros and Wall Street.

At her annual political conference in 2018, she hosted Stephen K. Bannon and said she supported his efforts “to build a network that goes beyond European borders” and that “I’m interested in the Donald Trump phenomenon” and at the “Putin phenomenon in Russia.” She added, “And so the bigger the network, the happier I am.”

But on the threshold of running Italy, Ms. Meloni turned the wheel. After years of taking care of Ms. Le Pen, she suddenly distanced herself from herself. (“I am not related to her,” she said.) Neither did Mr. Orban. (“I disagree with some of his positions on the Ukraine war.”) Now, she calls Putin an anti-Western aggressor and says she will “absolutely” continue to send offensive weapons. public to Ukraine.

But critics say she revealed her true self on one recent occasion speech at a conference in favor of Spain’s far-right Vox Party. “There is no possibility of reconciliation. Yes to the natural family. No LGBT behavior,” she bellowed in Spanish. “There is no Muslim violence, there is a safer border, there is no mass immigration, there is to work for our people. Not related to major international finance. “

“The tone, that’s very wrong,” she said in the interview. “But it happened to me when I was so tired,” she said, adding that her passionate delivery “went hysterical.”

There are things she won’t give up, including the tricolor flame she inherited as her party symbol. Many historians say it evokes the flickering lights on Mussolini’s tomb.

She has said that the fire “has nothing to do with fascism but a recognition of the journey taken by democratic rights in our Republican Party history”.

“Don’t put out the flames, Giorgia,” shouted one supporter as Miss Meloni led the stage in Cagliari, where she devoted her sharpest objections to leftist attacks she said were trying. described her as “a monster”.

“They don’t scare me,” she shouted over the lines of “Giorgia, Giorgia, Giorgia.” “They don’t scare me.”

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