Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text
Early parliamentary elections in Italy are scheduled for September 25. After Mario Draghi's resignation, the chair of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers remains vacant and will be occupied – this is how the system works – by the head of the party who wins the parliamentary elections. Now, at the very beginning of the race, the leader, judging by the polls, is the party "Brothers of Italy". And their sister, George Meloni, will lead them to victory.
"I am a woman, a mother, an Italian and a Christian, and no one will take that away from me," she repeats such a political mantra at her rallies. It would seem that if 70 offices have been replaced in Italy over the past 75 years, then it would be possible to skip this event. But, firstly, Meloni heads a party of the extreme right, which is considered post-fascist, and secondly, the Italian government has never been led by a woman.
So about the post-fascists. They are everywhere in Europe. In France, their leader has already been in the second round of presidential elections for the umpteenth time, in Austria they have already been in power, in Greece, Golden Dawn felt comfortable in parliament. And nothing, only the name and an unpleasant train remained. Therefore, like Marine Le Pen at the time, Meloni began by ridding her party of the stereotypical image of people in breeches and boots.
It is possible to call the "Brothers of Italy" fascists in principle, but even the European press prefers the term post-fascists. This movement was born on the ruins of the "Italian Social Movement", which in turn was created by Mussolini's followers. In addition, the movement's coat of arms – a torch of the colors of the Italian flag – resembles fascist logos. However, almost all of the extreme right in Europe have such. There is also a party newspaper that allows itself ambiguous statements. There are also fans of the Duce. But no one goes with torches.
The Brothers are the only party not included in Draghi's coalition and have been in opposition since February 2021. Therefore, "whatever happened in Italy, any troubles and discontent, everything went to the benefit of the Brothers of Italy," says Marc Lazard, a historian and analyst at the French Institute of Syans Po. "That is why they have achieved significant success in local elections and now it is one of the leading political forces in the country."
And that's true. Meloni managed to surround herself with highly respected politicians from the right flank, emphasized her roots – from the proletariat – plus a serious attitude to business, and she is also a strong-willed woman. The whole mix worked perfectly. The "brothers" won more in the local elections than they expected, and they counted on the southern regions. They also dealt a serious blow to the north, where the "League of the North" traditionally dominates, and took Palermo, which has been permanently left for 40 years, with battles.
The sister herself "was an activist of the post-fascist party in her youth," says Piero Ignazzi, an honorary professor at the University of Bologna and a specialist in the right–wing movement. – But she built her program in such a way that there was a place for these ideas in it. Moreover, she managed to link them with conservative and neoliberal elements, for example, freedom of entrepreneurship or the ability to dismiss employees without conditions that are enslaving for the enterprise." Meloni does not hide the coincidence of views with Viktor Orban, the Spanish nationalist movement Vox or the French National Association. She is even willingly compared to Marion Marechal-Le Pen, the granddaughter of the founder of the party. Relations with the American right are also established.
That is, the basis of the program is economic liberalism, social conservatism, natalist policy: encouraging fertility, anti–Muslim, anti-Gypsy, anti-immigration orientation of domestic policy. Support for traditional right-wing values. The party wants to position itself as a guarantor of the traditions and national identity of Italians. They promise to open a free nursery, return a family allowance of 400 euros, not recognize same-sex marriages and the rights of the LGBT community. And the main thing is to finally stop letting Libyans into the country. This is a separate item.
The "Brothers of Italy" have left the positions of Eurosceptics and do not demand an exit from the European Union and the eurozone, claiming that they are more inclined to the principle of "Europe of Nations". Of course, Draghi once bargained 200 billion euros from the European Union to restart Italy's economic engine. This manna is needed in order to avoid a recession, which can lead to an increase in inflation and in order to overcome the consequences of strong energy dependence on Russia.
But Draghi knocked out this money for certain reforms. The European diplomat who handled this dossier believes that "if 70 percent of the promised reforms are not implemented by the end of 2022, Italy will lose tens of billions of euros." "Besides, it is not clear how things will be with the supply of weapons to Ukraine," continues French political analyst Marc Lazar. "The Brothers of Italy fully accepted the position of the West and condemned Russia. Berlusconi had a special relationship with Putin, Draghi nevertheless decided to participate in the supply of weapons. How will the "Brothers" behave? And the main thing is a right–centrist coalition."
Truly. Italy's electoral system is built in such a way that the country can be governed by a coalition. "Now we are talking about a right-centrist coalition," says Mark Lazar, "these are Forza Italia, the Northern League and the Brothers of Italy. Together, they have the most chances to bypass the Democratic Party and the 5-Star Movement, which will undoubtedly advance independently. The current right–wing coalition is a powerful electoral machine. But their differences will begin as soon as it comes to the specific leadership of the country."
Meloni and her entourage believe that the elections are practically in their pocket. Now they have 24 percent, the Democrats have 22, the League is in third place with 14 percent. The "brothers" are counting on the disillusioned followers of Berlusconi and Salvini to join them, and a coalition with two right-wing parties is obvious, especially since Forza and the League have been finding a common language for a long time, and a strong new leader will only benefit them.
At the same time, we recall that Meloni was not included in the coalition of the Draghi government. And there was already another nationalist party, Matteo Salvini's League. Will there be a "response" now? There are really strained competitive relations between them and so far neither one nor the other is ready for compromises. But now, specifically at the beginning of August, the advantage in the Meloni–Salvini battle is clearly on Meloni's side. The headlines of Italian newspapers are something like this: "A patriot who fights every day for what she believes in...".
There is also an element of luck. The campaign turns out to be short – 2 months, and even then half will have to be on vacation, so it will be difficult to "smear public opinion in time" and then change it.