Portrait: Meloni: Right as a teenager, "first and foremost Italian"

Almost exactly 30 years ago, Giorgia Meloni knocked on a door in Rome.

Portrait: Meloni: Right as a teenager, "first and foremost Italian"

Almost exactly 30 years ago, Giorgia Meloni knocked on a door in Rome. She had decided to get involved in politics. The then 15-year-old was opened and she was allowed to register in the youth organization of the "Movimento Sociale Italiano" (MSI), a party founded by fascists. That was in July 1992. Since Saturday, the native Roman has been Italy's first female prime minister. In three decades, Meloni has fought his way past all men in otherwise patriarchal Italy and has become the face of the right-wing in the country.

It is not clear why it was the heirs of the fascists who convinced Giorgia, who was born on January 15, 1977. Meloni speaks of an instinctive decision. She does not want to confirm that the election had something to do with the communist father, who left the family early. However, their life experiences definitely shaped their political positions. The fact that she had to grow up without a father led to her defending the "natural family", which consists of a man and a woman, says Meloni.

Giorgia and her sister Arianna were raised by their mother and grandparents in the working-class Garbatella district of Rome. The party became her second family, and political activism her priority. "If you have the ambition to change the world, there is no room for anything else," she writes in her biography, which also comes across as a manifesto. "When it comes to saving an entire nation, it's an unforgivable quirk to let your personal needs drive you," it says.

Meloni was the youngest minister in the history of Italy

Principled, patriotic, hard-working - that's how Meloni presents himself in retrospect. "I've done all sorts of jobs, from waitress to bartender," she once said in an interview with Corriere della Sera. On her website she describes herself as a politician and journalist.

She ran for political office at an early age. The MSI was renamed Alleanza Nazionale (AN) shortly after entering the government and was brought into government for the first time in 1994. Party leader Gianfranco Fini distanced himself from fascism in 2003 and described it as "absolutely evil". Meloni has avoided making such a clear statement about the roots of her party to this day. She broke with her sponsor.

In 2006 Meloni was elected to Parliament and two years later became the youngest Minister (Youth and Sport) in the history of Italy. It's the only government experience she has at the national level. In 2012 she founded the Fratelli d'Italia party.

Her maxim is "God, fatherland, family"

Meloni, who describes herself on Twitter as "always, everywhere and first and foremost Italian", stands for clearly right-wing positions: She wants to ward off migrants - especially from Africa - and strengthen Italy as a nation state within the EU. She wants to crack down on crime and build new prisons. Their maxim is "God, Fatherland, Family".

Meloni has had a daughter (Ginevra) since 2016, but is not married to her father. She opposes the right of homosexual couples to adopt children. She also sees no need to protect homosexuals or other minorities more against discrimination. She is against abortion - in her biography, Meloni writes that her mother was about to have an abortion herself when she was pregnant.

A lot of what the 45-year-old says about herself can be summarized under one motto: What doesn't kill me makes me stronger. She tells of how she was bullied - for example as a girl on the beach by older boys who called her a "fat ball" and shot her in the face with a volleyball. She also writes in her biography that she is afraid every day that others do not see her as equal and that she often feels inadequate.

"But this fear is my strength," she writes. "She's why I'm so conscientious, so tenacious, so willing to sacrifice." The feeling of not being good enough leads to staying grounded, she said in a recent interview.

Meloni's self-image: woman, mother, Christian

During her performances, Meloni appears anything but insecure or anxious. She does not shy away from confrontation, appears self-confident and has strong opinions. Her critics' arguments seem to bounce off her. She knows how to use her stage - be it on TV, in front of her followers or on social media.

The day before the election, when the campaign was supposed to be suspended, she posted a photo on Instagram. She can be seen hugging in a garden with her six-year-old daughter. As apolitical as the view into the private sphere may appear - the picture is exemplary for Meloni's self-description. At a rally, she once said: "I'm Giorgia, I'm a woman, I'm a mother, I'm a Christian." This phrase became her mantra.

If you think of populists as more of the macho or alpha animal type, Meloni shows that women can also become populist leaders who have different traits, said political scientist Mattia Zulianello from the University of Trieste about Meloni last year. "By posing as a mother who defends her children, she makes herself the mother of the nation - and it works."

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