Italy Set to Elect Its Most Right-Wing Government Since WWII

Italy is preparing to go to the polls on Sunday for parliamentary election, which could see the country elect its first female prime minister at the head of its most right-wing government since World War II. Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (FdI), which won just 4% of the vote in 2018, is expected to take around 25% this time and build an alliance of conservatives to a clear parliamentary majority.

If Meloni indeed becomes prime minister after Sunday’s election, her job will not be easy as Italy, like much of Europe, has been dealing with soaring energy prices, a mountain of debt, a possible recession and the Ukraine crisis

Meloni, who promises a crackdown on immigration and a cut in taxes, will also follow a leader held in high regard. Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the widely respected former head of the European Central Bank, was seen as a reassuring figure by international investors, but he resigned in July after a mutiny within his national unity government.

Unlike every other major party chief, Meloni refused to join Draghi’s coalition and instead saw her popularity skyrocket from opposition benches, where she ably denounced the painful measures the government took to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

Meloni is considered as a great communicator but she will face serious economic challenges and doesn’t have much experience.

Although she is expected to win, there is still possibility that her party ends up with a much smaller majority than projected, or even fall slightly short, opening the way for the sort of political instability that Italy is used to.

Adding to the uncertainty, voters will be electing a slimmed-down parliament with the number of seats in the lower house cut to 400 from 630, while the Senate goes to 200 seats from 315. This complicates efforts to forecast the result.

The election campaign has been fought with little sign of voter interest and no televised debate between the various party leaders.

The right-wing bloc has remade old promises to cut taxes, lower the pensionable age and prevent migrants from reaching Italy by boat from North Africa, with Meloni even suggesting a naval blockade to prevent refugees.

Meanwhile, the left leaning 5-Star Movement has promised to safeguard welfare benefits for the poor, a message that has resonated in the less wealthy south, which leaders across the political spectrum have criss-crossed in recent days anxious to win over an army of undecided voters.

Although Meloni has played down her far right past, claimed her party as a mainstream one and supported Ukraine in its war against Russai, the centre-left Democratic Party has warned repeatedly that electing Meloni is dangerous on account of the FdI’s neo-fascist origins and its ties with Hungarian Prime Minister Orban, who has been accused by the European Union of abusing the rule of law.

Despite rejecting having a far-right past, she has also been careful on the campaign trail not to alienate supporters who associate with the far right.

“I dream of a nation where people who have had to lower their heads for many years, pretending that they have different ideas so as not to be ostracized, can now say what they think,” she told a rally earlier this week.

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