Italy may be about to have its first female prime minister, but it is exactly the opposite of something progressive for our society.
🕑 3 min By Sara Campeti
1. The leading candidate: Giorgia Meloni
Giorgia Meloni is the leading candidate in the elections happening on the 25th of September 2022. Her party, Fratelli D’Italia (Brothers of Italy) is backed by the Matteo Salvini- lead party; Lega (League) and the Silvio Berlusconi-lead party; Forza Italia. On the political spectrum, she stands on the far-right: her ideals do not align with the respect of minorities such as Muslims, immigrants, and the LGBT+ community. Her career started when she was young, as shown in a video gone viral recently where, as a teenager, she claims Mussolini to have been a good politician and someone who only ever acted in Italy’s best interest.
Her ideals have not changed much since the 90s, when the video was taken, as her party has shown to be fond of Italian fascist tradition. Her party, Fratelli D’Italia, famously has a fascist symbol in its logo: the flame. The latter is sued to represent the spirit and the ideals of Mussolini still burning over his grave, which symbolically means that his legacy lives on through other politicians. Many of her colleagues in different Italian cities have also been found doing the Roman salute at their meetings, wearing fascist memorabilia, and singing fascist anthems. Fascism has never been eradicated in Italy, we have merely changed the name of the party.
2. What are the consequences for Italy?
The agenda established by her party in case of her winning prospects a scary future for the Italian youth. One of Giorgia Meloni’s priorities is fighting what she labeled "devianze giovanili", or “perversions of the youth.” But what are these perversions? On one hand, some of them are reasonable: she wants to fight drug and alcohol abuse and gambling addictions. On the other hand, the other “perversions” she wants to fight are obesity and anorexia: while fighting for better care for such issues is a noble cause, I would argue that putting eating disorders at the same level as substance abuse is, to say the least, distasteful.
Italian youth is not the only demographic being attacked: immigrants are as well. Italy has been dealing with issues regarding the arrival of immigrants to the southern regions of the country for years, and the right-wing parties have always made it their priority to impose some kind of naval bloc in front of Italian coasts. This is exactly what Meloni is promising her voters. Therefore, she is promising to repeat the same empty, xenophobic narrative as Matteo Salvini (ex-prime minister of internal affairs) which has only led to more illegal immigration in the country and the exploitation of such immigrants as modern slaves in southern Italian farms. She is promising the voters from the far-right what they want to hear, not something that is possible or that she has the competencies to do. The issue of illegal immigration is a European issue, that the EU Commission has been trying to solve for years by focusing on integrating these people into Europe rather than kicking them away. Giorgia Meloni is trying to make it sound like an issue she has the power to take care of without the aid of the European Union, which she does not have.
3. What are the consequences for Europe?
Giorgia Meloni has strong bonds with Hungarian Viktor Orban, who has turned Hungary into a self-defined “illiberal democracy” and whose Fidesz party has shown to not respect Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU):
“The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”
Therefore, she has strong anti-Europe feelings and her values do not align with the established European laws, but that does not mean she will stop taking their money. Italy experienced severe consequences of the 2008 crisis, which lead the EU to help it with several economic subsidies. One of them is the NextGenerationEU, which is a financial aid program that amounts to around 11 or 12% of the Italian GDP over the span of 5 years. A real deal.
The European Commission has also been tasked to keep an eye on the enfants terribles of Europe since the victory of the Fidesz party in 2015: Hungary, Poland , and now Italy. This means that the Commission will not lower its guard and subject the country to strong scrutiny about its economic growth but also about its upholding of European values. Hopefully, the third time a country is about to become a borderline authoritarian illiberal democracy, the Commission might actually do something about it.
In conclusion, Meloni’s very probable victory in the upcoming elections does not hold a positive prospect for Italy, nor Europe.
Written by Sara Campeti