Elections in Italy Divide as Right-Wing Candidate Raises Suspicions
During the Italian election on September 25, a far-right coalition of parties, including the Brothers of Italy party, Forza Italia, and the League, secured the majority of the country’s parliamentary seats, almost guaranteeing Giorgia Meloni the position of Italian Prime Minister. The left, who Reuters reports failed to form an electoral pact upon the end of their closing meetings, earned only 26 percent of the Italian vote, while the right-wing coalition earned 44 percent, according to The New York Times. By combining their support as they attempt to align their ideology, the right-leaning parties of Italy gained an electoral advantage over the left, The Washington Post states.
Brothers of Italy is an offshoot of a political branch formed by loyalists of former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini after World War II. Opponents of Brothers of Italy accuse the party of consisting of fascist sympathizers, The Washington Post reports. BBC News states that just four years ago, Brothers of Italy captured little more than four percent of the vote in the last general election. Although the election on September 25 had a lower voter turnout than expected, the strong win of the right-wing coalition was predicted, as parties with histories including Nazi and fascist origins are quickly becoming more mainstream within Italian politics, The New York Times reports. Meloni denies that Brothers of Italy is a fascist organization, but the future prime minister has a history that includes joining Italy’s neo-fascist movement as a teenager, according to BBC News. Al Jazeera states that Meloni will be the farthest right leader of Italy since World War II.
The only power that had the potential to halt the right’s predicted success in the election on September 25, Reuters claims, was former prime minister Giuseppe Conte, who revitalized the left-leaning Five Star party by promoting “citizens income” welfare, which would help low-income citizens and is not supported by the right. BBC explains that the Five Star movement became part of the government under Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who is resigning after three parties within parliament refused to back Draghi in a vote of confidence.
Although Meloni has previously expressed distrust toward the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, she has proclaimed that she fully supports the U.S. and NATO, POLITICO reports. Tensions may rise, however, as the right-leaning parties that have campaigned with Meloni are loyal to Vladimir Putin. Meloni has stated that she intends to support Ukraine and provide Kyiv with arms if she were elected as prime minister, The New York Times stated. Forbes reports that the lack of security a new government that Meloni may bring may lessen market confidence, yet another deep divide between those supporting the new right-wing political movement and those supporting center and left-leaning politicians.
Concerns of citizens include the social and political implications that the far-right win may have. According to Reuters, the LGBT community may face political upheaval, as a representative of Meloni has described gay couples as “not legal,” and Meloni herself has expressed disapproval of the rights of gay parents. Additionally, Meloni’s coalition of parties has introduced the idea of altering Italy’s constitution and electoral system to a direct presidential election, eliminating the parliamentary democracy Italy currently has in place, Al Jazeera reports.
Recent patterns of right-leaning candidates securing overwhelming support have occurred throughout Europe. According to the New York Times, a group founded by neo-Nazis just became the largest party in Sweden, far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has found success within the French elections, and a party mirroring Meloni’s political stance has emerged within Spain. A recent poll shared by Reuters, however, shows that 63 percent of Italians support marriage rights for gay citizens and 59 percent support gay adoption rights, both of which have increased within the past decade, indicating that the extremism seen within the political stance of Meloni may not be reflected in the ideas of Italian citizens.