On Sunday 25th September, Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party rose to power after winning the Italian election. This makes her Italy’s first female Prime Minister in history leading a party with neo-fascist roots. Meloni first became involved in politics back in 2006 and in 2012 she co-founded the Brothers of Italy party which revolves around Euroscepticism and anti-immigration policies.
Thus, she is leading the most far-right government since Benito Mussolini and the fascist era. This means that she will be guiding the most right-wing government in Italy since the era of World War II, making it also the first of the founding Member States of the European Union to elect a far-right party.
After World War I, Europe witnessed a rise in fascism, in particular in Italy and Germany. It was German fascism which took the form of Nazism, with various challenges such as inflation and unemployment contributing to the rise of Nazism. Adolf Hitler had led the Nazi Party with the Nazis governing Germany from 1933 till their defeat in 1945.
Italy on the other hand witnessed Mussolini and his desire to establish a fascist state. He formed his National Fascist Party in 1921 with an aim to rule Italy. Eventually, on the 29th of October 1922, Mussolini did not only become Prime Minister, but he was also the youngest leader aged 39 who was referred to as the World’s first fascist dictator. His reign lasted until the 28th of April 1943 when he was captured and shot by anti-fascist Italian fighters.
Characteristics of fascism may include a fascist state run by a dictator, extreme nationalism, militarism, having a centralized state and imperialism. During a speech in Parliament, Meloni condemned and rejected fascism and assured that Italy will remain committed to the European Union. She also added that she will fight any forms of discrimination, racism, and anti-Semitism.
Moreover, she is in favour of defending Ukraine and the sanctions implemented against Russia despite her Euroscepticism. However, she is also known for being very conservative, and is openly anti-LBGT. In regard to abortion, she has called it a “tragedy” and has thus raised fears and concerns in regard to women’s rights in Italy. Despite Meloni not wanting Italy to leave the Eurozone, she states that she intends to challenge Brussels in matters including mass migration and public spending rules.
While some Members of the European Parliament see the outcome of the result as worrying, others are content with the result. That is, while Europe’s far-right parties celebrated Meloni’s triumph, others stated that the election of this new government proves to be a dark time for both Europe and Italy itself, with most concerns coming from central and left-leaning members of the European Parliament.