Italy: Favorite of general elections, far right shows up in Rome
The far-right-dominated alliance, favorites in Sunday’s general election, held their only joint meeting in Rome on Thursday, at the end of a blitz campaign that could bring an ex-Mussolini admirer to power.
So will Italy fall? Funded by its European partners after a devastating pandemic, it was to place its fate in the hands of Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Fratelli d’Italia (FdI), an ultra-conservative, identity-building and nationalist formation.
“I vote for Meloni, she has never betrayed me, I share her opinion 100 percent, I find her consistent,” Giuli Ruggeri, a 53-year-old unemployed woman who came to the People’s Square meeting, told AFP directly the center of the Italian capital.
“La Meloni,” as she’s known in Italy, 45, has allied herself with the conservative Forza Italia (FI) party of declining billionaire Silvio Berlusconi and the anti-migrant and populist League of Matteo Salvini.
The three leaders, who stood side-by-side on stage “under the umbrellas” for the first and last time of this campaign, followed one another to address their tens of thousands of supporters who had gathered for this final push.
It was a visibly weakened Berlusconi, struggling to go alone, who first spoke briefly: “Italy doesn’t want to be ruled by the left,” the eighties protested, denouncing “fiscal oppression” and the “uncontrolled invasion” of migrants.
Matteo Salvini has set the coalition’s goal of “governing well and together for five years” and pledged to “protect Italy and the Italians”. He chained promises in a disjointed speech: freeze energy prices, end migrant landings, abolish TV license fees… while attacking the “dictates” of Brussels.
– “The Italians First” –
The real star of the meeting, Giorgia Meloni, whose first name-dominating supporters chanted the audience, finally captivated her with a flow speech of more than half an hour.
“We are ready, you will see on Sunday,” she said, promising to defend Italy’s “national interests” against Europe.
“We want a strong, serious and respected Italy on the international stage,” she said, also pledging to launch “a reform of Italian institutions” towards a presidential regime to ensure “stability” in a country that is just for its state instability is known.
Together, the right and the extreme right could win an absolute majority of seats in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate, with a comfortable lead over Enrico Letta’s Democratic Party (PD), which failed to federate left and center.
According to recent polls, 24-25% of voting intentions are attributed to FdI, ahead of PD between 21-22%. This is followed by the 5-star movement (ex-antisystems) with 13 to 15%, the league with 12%, FI with 8%.
The right/extreme right coalition could win between 45% and 55% of seats in Parliament.
The election is being closely watched in Brussels after the victory of a far-right and far-right bloc in Sweden, as Giorgia Meloni could become the first female prime minister from an EU founding country to head a post-fascist party.
Be careful, however, warns Marc Lazar, a professor at Sciences-Po and Luiss University in Rome, if the Conservatives’ victory appears to have been won, “the polls have been denied in the past”.
A key factor in this election is that turnout should fall to a historically low level of under 70%.
Carried out in the middle of summer, when the Italians were on the beach, it was “one of the worst campaigns of the post-war period (…) There was no confrontation about the ideas and visions of each”, analyzes Flavio Chiapponi, from the University of Pavia.
The right wants more borders and less “bureaucratic” Europe, more birth rates and less immigration, more “Judeo-Christian” values and less taxes.
– On the defensive –
But everyone campaigning wanted to recall their DNA beyond the electoral agreement: when Meloni and Salvini castigate “Islamization” and pledge to put “Italians first”, the first protectionist believes in the interventionist state, while Salvini and Berlusconi, more liberal, advocate a flat tax of 15 or 23%.
Coming from a political family built on anti-communism, she is also Atlanticist and supports the sanctions against Moscow after invading Ukraine, while Salvini, Vladimir Putin’s big “tifoso”, opposes, considering that she is above all harm the Italians pay the gasoline at a high price.
On the left, Enrico Letta, he “fought exclusively on defence, as if he already felt defeated”, while Giorgia Meloni surveyed Italy from north to south as if she were already prime minister, notes Flavio Chiapponi.
Enrico Letta presents himself as the guarantor of an Italy anchored in Europe, a powerful argument after the EU awarded almost €200 billion in aid to Italy to revive its economy after the pandemic.
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