Elections in Italy: What Giorgia Meloni thinks and what scares the EU

In July 1992, a 15-year-old schoolgirl rang the bell of the youth offices of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement in Rome. At first it was received with reservations, but it gradually assumed a leading role. Thirty years later, the Georgia Meloni she is expected to become its first female prime minister Italyhead of a Right-wing coalition that – according to opinion polls – will win power in Sunday’s elections.

As head of the European Union’s third-largest economy, Meloni will play an important role in shaping the EU’s responses. in ongoing crises. Many in Brussels, but also in the capitals of the member states, wonder who the 45-year-old really is, what shaped her values ​​and how she thinks.

As Politico reports, the answer, in part, lies among her friends and allies from her early years in the Youth Front. Many of them are now senior officials of the “Brothers of Italy” party, while some are going to participate in the country’s administration. According to her, what pushed her to get involved in politics was the murder by the Sicilian mafia of judge Paolo Borsellino, on July 19, 1992 in Palermo. According to Meloni’s MEP, Nicola Procaccini, their motivations were “the same as today, although more radical… love and anger for our country”.

The Seagulls and The Lord of the Rings

The local Youth Front organization that Meloni had joined became known as “the seagulls”, from Richard Bach’s book Jonathan Livingstone’s Seagull, as they saw themselves as outsiders coming together for a greater cause. At the same time, the new generation of the Italian Far Right drew inspiration from the works of the British author J. R.R. Tolkien, considering them a central pillar in the effort to find a new post-war identity, according to a New York Times report. “I think Tolkien articulated better than we do what we believe,” 45-year-old Meloni has said. For her, “The Lord of the Rings” plays the role of a sacred text.

According to Meloni, many members of the “seagulls” had complicated family lives and were looking for an alternative family. Meloni’s father, moreover, had also left her home. Gradually the members of the group began to come into violent clashes with activists of the Left. Meloni’s senator and close adviser, Giovanbattista Fatsolari, said that “our entire generation ended up spending a few days in the hospital. That was part of our normalcy.”

“Naughty and sweet”

Her then-mentor Fabio Rabelli, now an MP for her party, chose her to run as a councilor “because she was irreverent and sweet at the same time”, thereby being able to “break down the hard-right skinhead image”. Its political ideology rejects progressive values ​​and embraces identity politics. It is based on the defense of national borders, national interests and the traditional family. He has always been strongly anti-drug and anti-abortion, although he insists he would not ban abortion. He speaks of the “dominance of the elitist Left” in public discourse and the Italian establishment—especially academia and the judiciary. “They call us monsters,” he said.

Its critics say Italy’s fascist past under Mussolini is directly linked to the “Brothers of Italy”. Meloni, according to her party officials, places great importance on consistency and staying true to her political roots, often worrying how her 15-year-old self would judge her decisions today. This sense of holding firm has helped her party draw votes from Matteo Salvini’s Northern League, but on foreign policy, Meloni appears willing to compromise. Although in 2018 he celebrated the victory of Vladimir Putin, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine he has unreservedly aligned himself with the US and NATO. Besides, as the Financial Times commented in their article, the 45-year-old Meloni seems capable of presenting different faces at home and abroad.

The “pack of wolves”

Meloni relies on a tight-knit group of allies who have been with her for years. Her sister and brother-in-law are also in the party. Her circle, according to the words of a former MP, is “closed”. Sometimes, loyalty and shared battles count more than experience. He prefers to write on paper with capital letters, although he demands that everything he has to read be printed on one page, in a specific font.

This closed circle is crucial to understanding Meloni as a politician. When she needs to make a decision, she doesn’t make it alone. First he consults those who know the matter, according to Senator Fatsolari. In her book she quotes Kipling: “The strength of the wolf is the pack. The strength of the pack is the wolf.” For Fatsolari, the strength of the wolf pack is that they have known each other for 30 years. “During this time, we have all discovered each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” he said, adding: “Gradually there has been a selection of who is fit for leadership and who is not.”

However, Meloni’s faith in her roots also risks hindering the transition of the “Brothers of Italy” to a party with more moderate positions. Meloni has refused to remove the flame associated with fascism from her party’s badge because it is part of their history. But governing in a coalition of parties inevitably requires compromises, notes Politico.

Elections in Italy: What Giorgia Meloni thinks and what scares the EU-3

Her “patriotic” economic agenda and the concern of the E.U.

In another publication, in the past few days, Politico – citing European sources – reported that in the halls of the European Council and the Commission, officials are indeed worried. “Yes, we are worried. Italy has long been one of the weak links of the Eurozone economy. Its debt levels are high. What happens in Italy matters,” noted a European Council official. It was preceded by Meloni’s statement, in her pre-election speech in Milan, that “in Europe they are a little worried. The fun is over. Italy will begin to defend its national interests, as others do.”

Given the size of the Italian economy and its high debt levels, Italy is of enormous importance to the stability of the euro area. As for Meloni herself, she now comes to mark a sharp departure from what Mario Draghi represented, the perennially trusted former central banker in the eyes of Europeans who had waged his own fight as head of the ECB for the stability of the common European currency .

Elections in Italy: What Giorgia Meloni thinks and what scares the EU-4

According to what Giorgio Leali and Susan Lynch have written in Politico, there is strong concern that Meloni’s “economic patriotism” could push Italy to backtrack on a number of reforms, such as the reopening of closed professions that had been called for. from Brussels as part of the post-pandemic support package given as aid to Italy.

Georgia Meloni herself, however, is trying for her part, now that she sees victory in the elections coming, to present herself as reliable before the Europeans. “However, her plans for the Italian economy are still at odds with Brussels’ economic orthodoxy,” Politico’s editors note in their article. After all, as the Financial Times has pointed out, there are still serious reservations about Meloni, particularly as a range of far-right parties gain ground across Europe – even though she presented a more moderate face on the campaign trail.

Elections in Italy: What Giorgia Meloni thinks and what scares the EU-5

With information from POLITICO, FT

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