Italy has elected its most far-right government since the two decades of Benito Mussolini’s leadership. Giorgia Meloni, a 45-year-old former journalist and member of the Brothers of Italy party, has won Italy’s election for prime minister. Meloni, who will be Italy’s first ever female prime minister, has some observers concerned with the return of fascism to Italy.
“The Trump comparisons are there if you look for them,” POLITICO reported. “Her campaign slogan was ‘pronti a risollevare l’Italia,’ which translates as ‘ready to revive Italy’ and echoes Trumps ‘make America great again.’” In addition to a comparable campaign slogan, Meloni, like Trump, required press attending her campaign events to wear credentials emblazoned with her campaign slogan.
Well, those are pretty superficial comparisons to Trump. And as I’ve written in the past: Trump is not a fascist. And as even POLITICO concedes, “the Trump comparisons only go so far.”
Trump – and Meloni – are conservative, however. And the international conservative community celebrated Meloni’s win. “Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban posted a picture [with Meloni]. Steve Bannon, who has been hyping [Meloni] for years, rejoiced on his show with Matt Schlapp, who hosted Meloni at CPAC earlier this year,” POLITICO reported.
Inversely, left-wingers are concerned with Meloni’s election. During the campaign, they drew a picture of Meloni “as a would-be tyrant taking an ax to Italian democracy and ushering in an era of illiberalism,” Mattia Ferraresi wrote for the New York Times. Now, they worry that “a government led by [Meloni] will transform Italy into an electoral autocracy, along the lines of Viktor Orban’s Hungary.”
Ferraresi is not convinced Meloni poses a threat to Italian democracy, however. “The major bulwark against autocracy in Italy can be summed up in one word: Europe.” Ferraresi explains further:. “Our fragile economy – set to grow, in a best-case scenario sketched out by the International Monetary Fund, only 0.7 percent in 2023 – is heavily dependent on European institutions. Beyond the usual web of economic ties, the country is the biggest beneficiary of a European Commission-led recovery fund set to disperse in the next four years over 200 billion euros, or $195 billion, in grants and loans. Crucially, this economy-saving aid, without which the country may well spiral into recession, is conditional on respecting democratic norms. Any step down an Orban-like path would imperil Italy’s entire economy, surely a no-go for the government.”
While Meloni has criticized Italy’s EU membership in the past, she now seems content with her country’s inclusion. “I don’t think Italy needs to leave the eurozone and I believe the euro will stay,” Meloni said last year.
Meloni “has been a staunch defender of Ukraine and opponent of Russian aggression,” POLITICO reported. “She’s pro-NATO and ditched much of her Euroskepticisim as she attempted to calm the fears of the European establishment.” Ferraresi agrees: “On foreign policy…Ms. Meloni is aligned with the dominant view on the continent. Formerly friendly with President Vladimir Putin of Russia – she asked the Italian government to withdraw its support of sanctions in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014…she has, since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, reinvented herself as a torchbearer of Atlanticism and a staunch support of NATO.”
Still, Biden aides are worried that Meloni is not committed to funding Ukraine’s resistance, feeling that the resources could be better spent at home. And “if a major G-7 player begins leaning on Kyiv to find a negotiated settlement to the war – as opposed to funding its resistance – there is a possibility that other nations could follow suit and the continent’s resolve could weaken,” Jonathan Lemire wrote.
All of the worry and speculation may be for nought; “This being Italy, one likely outcome is a short-lived government where obvious fissures…deepen, the government accomplishes little, and voters become disillusioned and go hunting for the next savior,” POLITICO reported.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.