Italian far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, whose party came top in general elections, said Monday she would seek to lead the next government and would work for all Italians.
Ms Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, has never held office but looks set to form Italy’s most far-right government since the fall of dictator Benito Mussolini during World War Two.
“Italians have sent a clear message in favour of a right-wing government led by Brothers of Italy,” she told reporters in Rome, adding that “we will do it for all” Italians.
Projections published by the Rai public broadcaster and Quorum/YouTrend both put Brothers of Italy on top, at between 24 and 26 per cent of the vote, with Ms Meloni favourite to become her country’s first female prime minister.
Her allies, Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, lagged behind. But the coalition was forecast to win around 43 percent, enough to secure a majority in both houses of parliament.
The result must still be confirmed but risks fresh trouble for the European Union, just weeks after the far-right outperformed in elections in Sweden.
Ms Meloni, who campaigned on a motto of “God, country and family”, has abandoned her calls for one of Europe’s biggest economies to leave the Eurozone, but says Rome must assert its interests more in Brussels.
“Today you can participate in writing history,” the 45-year-old tweeted before the polls closed.
Who is Giorgia Meloni?
A straight-speaking Roman raised by a single mother in a working-class neighbourhood, Ms Meloni rails against what she calls “LGBT lobbies”, “woke ideology” and “the violence of Islam”.
She has vowed to stop the tens of thousands of migrants who arrive on Italy’s shores each year, a position she shares with Mr Salvini, who is currently on trial for blocking charity rescue ships when he was interior minister in 2019.
The centre-left Democratic Party claimed her government would pose a serious risk to hard-won rights such as abortion and will ignore global warming, despite Italy being on the front line of the climate emergency.
Brothers of Italy has roots in the post-fascist movement founded by supporters of Benito Mussolini, and Ms Meloni herself praised the dictator when she was young.
She has sought to distance herself from the past as she built up her party into a political force, going from just 4 per cent of the vote in 2018 to Sunday’s triumph.
Her coalition campaigned on a platform of low taxes, an end to mass immigration, Catholic family values and an assertion of Italy’s nationalist interests abroad.
They want to renegotiate the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund, arguing that the almost 200 billion euros Italy is set to receive should take into account the energy crisis.
But “Italy cannot afford to be deprived of these sums”, political sociologist Marc Lazar said, which means Ms Meloni actually has “very limited room for manoeuvre”.
The funds are tied to a series of reforms only just begun by Mr Draghi.
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