Italy is drifting more to the right than at any time in the post-war period. After a clear election victory, Giorgia Meloni's right-wing extremist Fratelli d'Italia can take over the government in Rome.
The nationalist, EU-critical and anti-immigrant populist sees a clear mandate in the success. She wants to bring the Italians back to the fore in Europe. "Now it will be our job not to disappoint them and to do our utmost to restore dignity and pride to the nation," Meloni wrote on Twitter on Monday. She refrained from further statements or even a press conference the day after her triumph.
For the first time in the country's history, a woman could move into the government palace - it is expected that Meloni will agree on a coalition with the right-wing populist Lega and the conservative Forza Italia. The three parties are allied. As a strong alliance, they benefited from Italian electoral law. After counting almost all constituencies, they had around 44 percent of the votes; that was enough for an absolute majority in Parliament.
Italian disenchantment with politics
The divided centre-left camp could do little to counter this. In addition, an increasingly blatant disenchantment with politics on the part of Italians may have helped the right. Only 63.9 percent and thus less than two-thirds of those entitled to vote even went to the polls - this is by far the worst value in history.
Meloni spoke early in the morning of a "Night of Pride" and a "Night of Redemption". The nationalist, whose Fratelli is a successor party to the MSI movement founded by fascists and those loyal to Mussolini and who still have a flame reminiscent of the dictator in their coat of arms, said: "We must be proud again to be Italians." The election victory after a steep rise in recent years is "not the goal, but the beginning".
In terms of foreign policy, she is considered pro-Western and a supporter of NATO. She emphasizes her support for Ukraine, which is being attacked by Russia, which many also attribute to her ties to the Polish ruling party PiS. Meloni is also known for her criticism of the EU institutions. In Brussels, she wants to renegotiate the conditions of the Corona reconstruction fund. She has also announced a hard hand against migrants who come by boat across the Mediterranean.
Meloni is opposed to progressive demands such as the right to be adopted by same-sex partners. She rejects gender issues as well as a quota for women. She also wants to severely restrict the basic allowance for the unemployed, which is used primarily in the poor south. The legal alliance also promised tax cuts.
Meloni, who is now 45, has been politically active since she was young. In her biography, she writes that she is continuing the "struggle" that she began in 1992 at the age of 15. It can set the tone in the coalition, whose balance of power has changed dramatically in recent years.
For Matteo Salvini, the outcome is a bitter defeat - even if he emphasized the success of the legal alliance the day after the election. After almost 18 percent in the 2018 parliamentary elections and 34 percent in the European elections a year later, the Lega slipped to almost 9 percent. Voters flocked to Meloni in droves. Still, Salvini sees no reason to give up leadership of the party. He is more determined than ever, he said on Monday in Milan.
The processing of the Social Democrats (PD), who came to around 26 percent, is completely different. During the night they recognized the victory of the right-wing camp and announced that they wanted to join the opposition. PD leader Enrico Letta wants to withdraw from the party leadership. It is the task of a new generation to form a strong opposition to the "most right-wing government in Italian history," he said. "The PD will not allow Italy to disappear from the heart of Europe."
Letta made a culprit for the fact that it is now the turn of the right: the ex-Prime Minister and head of the Five Star Movement Giuseppe Conte. The Five Stars withdrew their confidence from Prime Minister Mario Draghi in the summer, after which he resigned. Still a high-flyer in the 2018 election and involved in all three governments within the legislative period, the stars have now fallen to around 15 percent. A left orientation did not change that.
Election winner who has little government experience
Instead, the Italians are putting the country's fate in Meloni's hands, who has little government experience. As Prime Minister, she should follow her maxim "God, fatherland, family" - liberals fear under Meloni regression for women. The 45-year-old rejects this. For example, she doesn't want to abolish the legal right to an abortion, although her opponents keep saying so, she said again and again.
The election program of the Rechts-Allianz also includes help for families and also for young mothers who want to return to work. Minorities cannot expect additional protection from a right-wing government under Meloni. The head of Fratelli doesn't even want to let migrants from North Africa into the country. She also sees no need to protect homosexuals more strongly from discrimination, as is made clear in her biography. She also experienced discrimination, she writes in it, although she is straight. In her view, humiliation always weighs heavily, no matter who it hits.