The only opposition party during Mario Draghi’s national unity government, Fratelli d’Italia seems well placed to win Italy’s early September 25th election. Xenophobic, liberal and social, the post-fascist formation will see its secretary, Giorgia Meloni, become the next President of the Council.
“I am a woman, I am a mother, I am an Italian, I am a Christian and you will not take it from me”: Giorgia Meloni, the secretary of the post-fascist party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) , likes to repeat this media mantra in its meetings. Born in a famous environment compared to the typical origins of the Italian elite, this 45-year-old journalist reaped the fruits of his winning bet.
His training was the only one that did not join Mario Draghi’s national unity coalition, which collapsed on Wednesday. The only opposition party since February 2021, Fratelli d’Italia has risen to the top of the polls in months.
“For a year and a half, all the anger and all the discontent of the Italians had only one outlet, Fratelli d’Italia”, analyzes the historian, Italian specialist at Sciences Po, Marc Lazar. “That’s why it has long reached the local elections and now, according to the polls, is one of the leading political parties in the country.”
Fascist flame, vague words and nostalgia
Neck and neck in the polls with the Democratic Party (left), but favored by Italy’s electoral system and its alliance with La Liga and Forza Italia, Fratelli d’Italia could be a big hit next fall . Its leader, Giorgia Meloni, could succeed Mario Draghi by becoming the first woman to head the Council of Ministers. And this, despite its troubled past and its links with post-fascist Italy.
Born in 2012 from the ashes of the Italian Social Movement, a post-fascist movement, the Fratelli d’Italia has done a slow act of demonization to overcome its sulphurous reputation. Thus Giorgia Meloni denied any connection with Mussolini’s ideas, while being careful not to condemn his reign.
“From her youth, Giorgia Meloni was an activist in a post-fascist party,” recalls Piero Ignazi, professor emeritus at the University of Bologna and specialist in Fratelli d’Italia. “Its identity is largely tied to post-fascist traditions. But its program mixes that tradition with some conservative and neoliberal elements, such as business freedom and deportation.”
Fratelli d’Italia thus counts in its ranks some nostalgics of the “Duce”, its newspaper, Secolo d’Italia, makes ambiguous comments … and the logo of party raised the torch dear to the fascist mystic. But its program expresses economic liberalism and social conservatism, pronatalist policy and anti-Muslim, anti-Roma and anti-immigration positions, and the party maintains links to the traditional right.
Presenting itself as the guarantor of traditions, of the family and of the Italian national identity, Fratelli d’Italia wants to create free crèches and the establishment of family allowances of 400 euros, social proposals echoing the pronatalist policy implemented by the Italian state in the 1930s. At the same time, the party opposed the recognition of homosexual couples and LGBT rights and campaigned for the closure of Italian ports to migrants from Libya.
Close to Orbán and Maréchal
The recipe is known to all Western democracies… In addition, Meloni does not hide his closeness to the Hungarian Viktor Orbán, the Spaniards of Vox or the French National Rally. In addition, she is often compared to Marion Maréchal, the granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen. He was also able to join the American right, by attending the “Conservative Political Action Conference” and the “National Prayer Breakfast” with Donald Trump.
The war in Ukraine and the prospect of power however seem to have changed some party lines. After a face-off on abortion rights, which he vowed to uphold despite his Catholic faith, Meloni changed his mind about his relationship with Russia.
While Matteo Salvini’s far-right Liga and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza (centre-right), its allies, are recognized as close to Vladimir Putin, Giorgia Meloni has shown a strong position in the Atlantic since the beginning of the conflict. Thus he joined Mario Draghi in his decision to deliver weapons to Ukraine.
The Fratelli d’Italia has also changed its Eurosceptic positions and is not in favor of a clear and clean exit from the European Union and the euro zone, claiming to want a “Europe of Nations “. A simpler position to speak of the European manna in the 200 billion euro negotiated by Draghi for the revival of Italy, says Marc Lazar.
“Meloni emphasized his persistence and his ability to work,” explained the researcher. “The only woman in a masculine environment and political family, she organized a convention in May 2022 that allowed her to surround herself with intellectuals and politicians marked by the right, but who are not her of the movement of the movement. right. This will help him show himself fit to govern.”
Elected MP at 29, appointed Minister of Youth at 31, Giorgia Meloni therefore relies on her seriousness and a presentable entourage, while playing on her popular origins and her femininity, unique in the world of Italian politics . The mixture seems to have been obtained, more than the traditional southern elections: Fratelli d’Italia won many victories in the local elections in the North, dominated until then in La Liga, and made a good mark in Palermo, obtained in the left of 40 years.
But if the strategy has paid off so far, it is likely that things will become complicated in the event of – possible – electoral victory, nuance Marc Lazar. “The Italian electoral system is such that the so-called ‘centre-right’ coalition, which brings together Forza Italia, La Liga and Fratelli d’Italia, has the best chance of winning against candidates from the Democratic Party or Movement 5 Stars, which will certainly show themselves on each of their sides”, explained the researcher. “This coalition is an electoral war machine. But their differences are likely to explode once they sit in power and pose a series of questions about the country’s government.”