Saturday

10th Dec 2022

'Grazie Italia': Far-right wins power in Rome

  • Giorgia Meloni struck a conciliatory note after her victory on Sunday night (Photo: fratelli-italia.it)
Listen to article

A far-right bloc, led by former fascist Georgia Meloni, barrelled to victory in Italian elections on Sunday (25 September) with up to 45 percent of the vote.

"Grazie Italia" said Meloni on a small banner held up for cameras. "This is a night of pride for Brothers of Italy", she said, referring to her party, which also scooped the most votes inside the right-wing bloc, putting her in line to be prime minister.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The left-wing bloc of outgoing leader Mario Draghi came second with some 30 percent, trailed by the populist Five Star party on about 17.5 percent.

"This is a sad evening for the country," Debora Serracchiani, a senior MP from the leftwing Democratic party told press.

The Brothers of Italy has fascist roots, but remodelled itself into a regionalist and anti-immigrant force in modern times.

It is set to rule in coalition with the far-right League party of Matteo Salvini and the right-wing Forza Italia party of disgraced former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Meloni spoke softly on Sunday, saying: "If we are called upon to govern this nation, we will do so for all Italians, with the aim of uniting the people, of exalting what unites them rather than what divides them".

She was also tough on Russia in her election campaign, unlike Salvini and Berlusconi, who spoke well of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

But the advent of far-right power in one of the EU's founding and largest member states could spell trouble for both Rome and Brussels.

Italy is still waiting for disbursement of EU pandemic recovery funds, even as the EU Commission takes a more hawkish line on withholding money from member states who violate EU values, such as Hungary and Poland.

Meloni has said she wants a second look at reforms promised by Draghi in return for EU money.

And escalating Western economic warfare with Russia will test Meloni's rhetoric on Putin, as the Italian economy also suffers from rocketing energy prices.

Austrian precedent

When a far-right party took power in Austria in 2000, EU countries spoke of freezing its voting rights in the EU Council in a political cordon-sanitaire. Some, such as Belgium, even spoke of Austria's EU exit at the time.

But Meloni's win could also embolden other far-right parties and their voters in Europe, both on the anti-immigrant side as in France and Germany, and the eurosceptic side, as in Poland.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Brussels had "the tools" to handle unpleasant members on the eve of the Italian vote.

And both both Salvini, and later Polish prime minister Matteusz Morawiecki, used her words against her to claim the EU does not respect sovereign states anymore, in a taste of what's to come.

Editorial

Background reads: Italy's election

With Italy heading to the ballot boxes this Sunday, let's take a look at what EUobserver has published that can help understand the country's swing to the (far)-right.

Agenda

Meloni mood and energy in focus This WEEK

Italians cast their ballot yesterday on Sunday and chose a rightwing majority parliament, which is expected to have a turbulent relationship with Brussels.

Podcast

How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.

Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

In Warsaw and Budapest, the prime ministers were quick to congratulate the new Italian leader, who — they hope — will back them in their battles with the EU over civil rights, rule of law and democratic backsliding.

Opinion

A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail

As a result of my peaceful civil activism, I have been arrested 13 times, undergone five trials, and been sentenced to 34 years of imprisonment and 154 lashes in total. I am currently in Evrin prison, without the slightest regret.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission silent on Greek spyware sale to Madagascar
  2. A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail
  3. EU lets Croatia into Schengen, keeps Bulgaria and Romania out
  4. Energy crisis costs thousands of EU jobs, but industrial output stable
  5. Illegal pushbacks happening daily in Croatia, says NGO
  6. No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU
  7. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  8. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us