These right-wing parties want to rule Italy


Rome “You are patriots in our hearts,” Ercole had printed on his T-shirt, with a heart-shaped photo of Giorgia Meloni above it. The 56-year-old – blue cap of the Fratelli d’Italia party upside down – fought his way to the barrier in front of the stage on Thursday evening. Here in Rome on the Piazza del Popolo, in the shadow of the great obelisk, Italy’s right-wingers are celebrating their joint election campaign finale.

“Everything will change from Sunday,” Ercole is convinced. “We’re starting this country from scratch.Then he turns around – and points to another Meloni photo on his back. “Italians with their heads held high” is written next to it.

On Sunday, the third largest economy in Europe will elect a new parliament. According to the polls, the Fratelli d’Italia (FDI), a party with post-fascist roots, will win the most votes.

And Meloni, who is proud of her radical past, could become the country’s first female head of government. Together with the right-wing Lega and the centre-right party Forza Italia, she could forge an alliance – some election researchers even consider a two-thirds majority to be realistic.

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Who are the parties that have come together in the right-wing camp? What positions do they stand for – and what are their ideas for Europe?

Forza Italia: Silvio Berlusconi’s moderate rights

Supported by his comrades-in-arms, Silvio Berlusconi is the first to take the stage. “He is the founder of the centre-right,” rang out the loudspeakers when he arrived at the lectern. “The people’s last elected prime minister”, the “most famous and respected statesman” abroad.

Berlusconi, the constant smile, doesn’t change a face. “Who paid for that?” he asks at the end and laughs.

Then the 85-year-old reads his political legacy from the teleprompter. The head of Forza Italia (FI) enumerates what Italians owe him as former Prime Minister: that he never increased taxes, that he always stood up for the freedom of citizens, that he allowed few illegal immigrants into the country left country.

But he also emphasizes that he is the party of Europe, a friend of the USA, a guarantor of security. No 20 green and red FI flags can be seen while Berlusconi speaks. But significantly more Lega flags – and a sea of ​​Meloni banners, flags and Fratelli balloons.

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Berlusconi founded the centre-right bloc a good 30 years ago and was the last right-wing government in 2011 Italy listed. But not only this evening makes it clear that its political zenith is far past: In the polls, the FI, the one in the European Parliament, like the CDU belongs to the group of the European People’s Party EPP, has not been in double digits for a long time.

Although Forza Italia is the most moderate of the right-wing parties, it would also be the weakest in the new alliance. The Lega of the former Minister of the Interior have long since Matteo Salvini and Melonis FDI has overtaken the veteran of Italian politics.

During the election campaign, Berlusconi campaigned primarily for tax breaks and called for a flat tax of 23 percent on income tax. Economists have calculated that this alone would cost the state budget 30 billion euros – per year. According to Italian social insurance, the pension increases promised by Berlusconi would cost just as much.

In a recent interview with the newspaper “Il Sole 24 Ore”, he made it clear which Europe the Forza boss wants: His party stands for the Europe of EPP boss Manfred Weber, “not for the Europe of Viktor Orban”, the Hungarian head of government , whose state recently demoted the EU to an autocracy.

Lega: Matteo Salvini’s party of two faces

When Matteo Salvini takes the stage, he is heralded as “the most popular interior minister of all time”. “I was defending Italy’s borders back then,” he says – and makes no secret of the fact that he and his party want to take care of exactly that in the possible new government. “Here you see a 49-year-old who is being tried and who risked 15 years in prison for blocking boats of illegal migrants,” says Salvini.

Election campaign finale on Thursday in Rome

The Piazza del Popolo becomes a sea of ​​flags.

(Photo: ddp/abaca press)

In the summer of 2019, the head of the right-wing Lega refused the Spanish rescue ship “Open Arms” entry into the port of the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa for six days. 147 migrants were on board at the time.

At the end of October Salvini has to answer for this in court. “I did it – and I can’t wait to go back to do it again.”

Salvini, who has already been photographed in Moscow with Putin’s likeness on his shirt and most recently called for an end to sanctions against Russia, was considered the new strong man on Italy’s right for many years after Berlusconi’s polls crashed. But he also made many political mistakes.

Former followers accuse him of being a “flag in the wind,” saying one thing today and doing something else tomorrow. That coherence that many Fratelli d’Italia supporters praise in Meloni is completely missing in Salvini.

>> Read also: “Leap in the dark” – Italy’s right becomes a risk for the euro zone

It was he who brought his party into government in the summer of 2018 with the best result in history (more than 17 percent), in a populist left-right alliance with the Five Star Movement. The coalition under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who at the time preferred to continue governing with the Social Democrats (PD), only lasted 15 months.

When this alliance also failed a year and a half ago Mario Draghi was chosen to be the savior of Italy, Salvini entered Draghi’s “coalition of national unity” with his Lega. Berlusconi’s FI did the same. The only opposition force in the right-wing camp was Meloni’s party, which was able to distinguish itself without government constraints – and thus attracted more and more protest voters, but also many former Lega supporters.

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The Lega is the oldest of the right-wing parties, founded in 1989. It arose as a merger of several autonomous movements that wanted to split off the economically strong northern regions of Italy. In 2017, the newly elected party leader Salvini renamed the “Lega Nord” to “Lega per Salvini Premier” – and completely tailored the program to himself.

The party has two faces today: in the north, for example in Veneto or Lombardy, it is a moderate, conservative party that sits in many local parliaments and is supported by a number of medium-sized companies. In the south, the radical arm dominated by Salvini – with verbal attacks on migrants and other minorities.

On the stage in Rome, the party leader promotes a higher birth rate. “From mom and dad,” says Salvini. “Not from parent one and parent two.” The audience cheers.

Fratelli d’Italia: Giorgia Meloni’s radical critics of Europe

“Am I scaring you?” Giorga Meloni asks her followers when she is allowed to give the closing speech. “No, are you sure?” She makes fun of the fact that intellectuals, the media and European partners fear that Italy will drift to the right.

“You know what? We don’t care what they all think – we’re interested in what the Italians think.” From Sunday, Italy will “breathe the air of freedom” again.

Of the three right-wing parties, Melonis Fratelli d’Italia is the most radical. At the age of 15 she joined the Movimento Sociale, a post-fascist party. The logo, a flame in the national colors, is said to be a nod to the eternal flame found on the grave of fascist Benito Mussolini.

Meloni rose quickly in the party at the time. After various renamings and new foundations, she ended up in Berlusconi’s “Party for Freedom” (PDL) and became Minister for Youth and Sport at the age of 31.

>> Read also: Giorgia Meloni – This radical right wants to rule Italy

When the right-wing alliance collapsed in 2012, Meloni founded her “Italian Brothers” with a core of old comrades-in-arms. The green, white and red flame still adorns the party logo today.

Photos or videos of party events where the Roman salute is shown keep popping up. The gesture – a straight, raised arm – became established in the 19th century as a fascist salute and resembles the identifying mark of the personality cult surrounding Adolf Hitler.

For years, FDI remained in the extreme niche, with Meloni getting the best result in the 2019 European elections with 6.4 percent. She has always fought for national pride, Italian sovereignty and the classic family image. Over the years, her slogans have found more and more approval, and last year – as opposition leader – Meloni overtook the Lega in the polls.

Giorgia Meloni at a party event in May 2022

The 45-year-old has a good chance of becoming Italy’s first female prime minister.

(Photo: IMAGO/Italy Photo Press)

Economic issues are only roughly outlined in the election program. Meloni wants to reform the tax system, but does not make it clear how. The basic income, a social aid network that helped many people to make ends meet during the Corona crisis, wants to stop them. She takes a critical stance towards Europe, sees Italy subjugated by the “Franco-German axis” and wants to defend Italian interests in the future.

This is how the Handelsblatt reports on the election in Italy:

She also wants to discuss the use of the money from the EU reconstruction fund, from which Italy will receive around 200 billion euros. Despite this, she has repeatedly committed herself to Europe and has no plans to leave the euro or break away from Western allies. She sees herself as a transatlantic and wants to continue supporting Ukraine.

At the same time, there are signs of a tougher approach towards minorities. Meloni wants to send all illegal migrants back and relies on registration centers in the countries of origin.

She preaches the classic family and doesn’t believe in adoption by homosexual couples. “I am convinced that every child has the right to a mother and a father,” she writes in her autobiography.

Women are also likely to have problems if they want to have an abortion. In Marche, a region in central Italy that FDI has governed since 2020, pregnancies can only be terminated up to the seventh week – and not up to the ninth like in the rest of the country. On top of that, a mandatory “reflection week” was introduced to think over the decision.

More: Why the markets fear the shift to the right in Italy



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