Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Italian party Brothers of Italy, successfully presents herself as a viable, acceptable and credible coalition candidate for the right-wing Northern League party, whose leader’s current reputation as that unreliable careerist is costing the League crucial votes.
In just two years, support for Giorgia Meloni’s far-right political party “ Brothers of Italy ” has quadrupled, from 3-4% of the national vote to become the third most popular party in the country, with currently 16% vote.
Since assuming the leadership in 2014, Meloni has catapulted the Brothers of Italy to sit in the post-fascist fringes to influence the Italian political stream: she has overtaken the ruling party “ 5Star Movement ” – which votes currently at 15% and who is Italian. fourth most popular party – and became the first woman in Italian history to lead a major political party.
She is also the second most popular politician in the country, with an impressive approval rating of 46%, just behind Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and comfortably ahead of Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right “Northern League” party.
Its rise to political domination, in short, seems unstoppable.
Recently, she is also emerging as a more credible and consistent tone-giver for the right wing, a role Salvini has long held. Although his response to the pandemic was seen as brash and self-interested, his response was seen as serious, respectful and institutional.
Basically, Meloni and Salvini need each other if they want a strong, far-right majority government; and analysts are showing signs of a very likely alliance between their parties.
What consequences would a Salvini-Meloni coalition have on the Italian socio-political and economic landscape?
Sister of Italy
The reasons for Meloni’s political success are twofold: First, the Italian electorate seems increasingly open to radical leaders and frustrated with the centrists who have dominated Italian politics for decades and are now held responsible for the country’s long stagnation. .
Second, it is widely believed that his success is due in large part to his astute messaging discipline, ideological consistency, and perspicacity in communication. Meloni has emerged as a skillful “political animal” who stands out in the Italian political landscape precisely because of his conscientiously unshakeable stance on political issues – a rare occurrence among notoriously unstable and shifting Italian politicians.
The Brethren of Italy’s fiercely national-conservative agenda includes radical positions against immigration, LGBTQ + rights and reproductive freedom. Their conservative economic plan involves low taxes, investments in Italian infrastructure and a hawkish stance against Chinese expansionism in trade and finance.
Meloni also plans to increase economic support to so-called “traditional families” to boost Italy’s sluggish birth rate, thereby minimizing the need for immigrant workers.
Finally, its ambivalent position on the EU also explains why its rhetoric resonates with many Italian voters: like Meloni, they too believe in theory in the European project but criticize the alleged overtaking of Brussels, especially with regard to austerity measures. .
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, growing support for the Brothers of Italy has offset the Northern League’s decline in popularity.
Their fall from grace is twofold: first, the League has recently suffered internal quarrels and stabbing within the party.
Second, Salvini’s recent missteps, boisterous staging, political blunders, and what some call haphazard television appearances have hit a electoral base facing an unprecedented pandemic and its severe economic repercussions.
For example, since the Covid-19 outbreak – which was the deadliest in parts of northern Italy, the stronghold of the Northern League – Salvini has led and participated in widely criticized “shrewd protests” and at press conferences against the government’s lockdown restrictions, in which he notoriously ignored social distancing rules, taking unmasked selfies and sharing food with large groups of supporters.
As such, Salvini’s prepandemic reputation as an unreliable careerist whose often conflicting political positions have been only made worse by the electorate’s current frustration with his perceived lack of tact and inconsistency during a period of time. global health and financial crisis.
On the other hand, Meloni successfully presented herself as a more balanced and consistent leader delivering a sober and patriotic message to the Italian people in times of urgency and uncertainty.
As such, she has masterfully capitalized on Salvini’s ardor and recent political mistakes, emerging from the Covid-19 crisis as a more capable, balanced and credible alternative for the right.
A right-wing coalition on the horizon
However, all is not lost for Salvini. Although weakened, the Northern League remains the most popular party in Italy, currently with a 24% vote, followed by the center-left Partito Democratico and then the Brothers of Italy.
Although the next national elections in Italy are not held until 2023, the country is infamous for its frequent no-confidence motions, government collapses and snap elections. If the current government – which is increasingly fragile and fractured – were to collapse in the near future and premature elections were to take place, analysts believe that a Salvini-Meloni ticket would likely be a successful coalition.
Together, they resonate with an Italian electorate that is increasingly willing to depart from centrist politics to embrace the populist and nativist sentiments embodied by national-conservative politicians. In fact, the League and the Brothers have already campaigned together in the provincial and regional elections in the summer of 2020.
Above all, the likelihood of a victory for the Ligue du Nord-Frères d’Italie coalition is reinforced by the declining popularity of the 5-star movement and the frequent internal conflicts and inconsistent messages from the center-left.
In addition, both parties cover a large part of Italian territory: generally, the League wins a larger share of the votes in northern Italy, while the stronghold of Meloni is in the central and southern regions.
If they become a ruling majority, one can expect frequent clashes with Brussels: although neither Salvini nor Meloni support ‘Italexit’, they are the EU’s most severe critics in the Italian Parliament, while the center-left remains scrupulously loyal to Brussels.
A significant part of the Italian far-right electorate is indeed resolutely Eurosceptic; and Salvini and Meloni often capitalize on anti-EU sentiments to blame Brussels for the country’s internal problems. For example, they spoke out about how Italy’s call for help at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic fell on deaf ears in the European Parliament until it is too late, and the emergency response and subsequent relief was insufficient.
Moreover, it is not unthinkable that a Salvini-Meloni majority government would impose tighter border controls, deportations, naval blockades and changes in Italian asylum policy if they won the next national elections in as a coalition.
In fact, in light of the Tunisian economic crisis this year, the number of migrant ships docking in Italian ports has almost doubled. Unsurprisingly, Meloni and Salvini were quick to capitalize on the issue, linking illegal immigration to the spread of Covid-19 and blaming immigrants for the rising unemployment rate in Italy during the crisis.
Finally, they would be likely to cooperate on tax policies and confront Brussels in order to introduce, among other measures, a flat tax of 50 billion euros that they have been advocating for a long time.
The toughest Italian coalition since World War II?
To conclude, it now seems increasingly likely that if Italy held a snap election, Salvini and Meloni would be each other’s best option on the right to achieve a majority government.
Together, they are rapidly turning Italian politics from the center to the far right, while damaging relations with Brussels and advancing an unprecedented agenda against civil liberties.
Basically, forming such a coalition would be Italy’s most far-right government since Mussolini.
In fact, even though Meloni tries to portray herself as a traditional politician, her stance on social issues puts her on the fringes of the radicals. Although she is aligned with Salvini on the defense of Italian national identity and the fight against immigration and the so-called “ left ” globalism, she is more openly opposed to euthanasia, to the so-called “ Islamization ” of Italy, LGBTQ + and reproductive rights.
As such, if the Northern League continues to lose its influence on the Italian political stream while the Brothers of Italy continue to gain ground, Meloni would have enough political capital to push forward an unprecedented, radically conservative and profoundly change the Italian socio-political landscape.