Not fascists. Giorgia Meloni, leader of Brothers of Italy and frontrunner in the Italian electoral race, is seeking to assuage concerns over her political positioning and her party’s post-fascist heritage. A point she’s keen to make, given the recent rise in international scrutiny over these very matters.
- That internationally-minded message took the form of three videos in three languages – English, French, and Spanish – in which she sought to reassure Italy’s international partners and allies over the positioning of her evermore likely right-wing government.
The main takeaways.
On fascism: “The Italian right has handed fascism over to history for decades now, unambiguously condemning the suppression of democracy and the ignominious anti-Jewish laws […] We fiercely oppose any anti-democratic drift with words of firmness that we do not always find in the Italian and European left.”
On the euro and the left: “I’ve been reading that [our electoral victory would be] a disaster, leading to an authoritarian turn, Italy’s departure from the euro and other nonsense of this sort. None of this is true,” she said, noting that the “powerful media circuit on the left” inspired these rumours to undermine her. She also promised not to jeopardise the roadmap – drawn by outgoing PM Mario Draghi – to access billions in EU funding.
On Ukraine and Italy’s role: “Our position in the Western camp is crystal clear, as we have demonstrated again by condemning, without ifs and buts, Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine, and by helping from the opposition to strengthen Italy’s position in European and international forums.”
On her political positioning: “For years, I have also had the honour of leading the European Conservative Party [which] shares values and experiences with the British Tories, the US Republicans and the Israeli Likud.”
The Italian reaction / 1. Ms Melon’s criticism of the left didn’t ring hollow to some.
- Ernesto Galli Della Loggia, perhaps one of Italy’s most influential journalists, took to the Corriere della Sera to lambast the Italian left’s unbreakable habit of calling for a united front against the spectre of an authoritarian right, “hoping that there will be someone who mistakes Giorgia Meloni for Adolf Hitler”.
- According to political commentator Edward Luttwak, interviewed by Il Tempo, Ms Meloni represents “a new political generation, which has nothing to do with fascism and wants to keep Italy on the side of the United States.”
The Italian reaction / 2. Nevertheless, some stains are harder to wash away, and some questioned the consistency between Ms Meloni’s words on fascism and the actions of Brothers of Italy’s ruling class.
- La Repubblica called the video an attempt “to dispel abroad with precise words those same ambiguities she dismisses in Italy with a shrug of shoulders.”
- As La Stampa recalled, the party’s logo still contains the Tricolour Flame from the Italian Social Movement, founded by former fascists after WWII. And there have been instances of party militants doing the Roman (i.e. fascist) salute, or referencing nazism and fascism, “each time reduced to folklore, operetta, nostalgia.”
The international outlook. The video is part of a years-long process of credential burnishing on behalf of Ms Meloni, which has accelerated dramatically due to the upcoming elections and her solid chances of becoming Italy’s next leader.
- Last week she appeared on Fox News to discuss the possibility of becoming Italy’s first female PM and her take on Italy’s ongoing issues.
- Over the past years, she has forged a strong alliance with the US Republican Party. She was a speaker at three CPAC conventions. Also, she’s become a member of the International Republican Institute and the Aspen Institute.