Poised to become Italy’s first female premier, Meloni succeeds Mario Draghi, who resigned in July after his governing coalition collapsed.
Giorgia Meloni, the right-wing leader of the Brothers of Italy party, won big in the September 25 snap general election, but political analysts overwhelmingly say her win is the country’s loss. Poised to become Italy’s first female premier, Meloni succeeds Mario Draghi, who resigned in July after his governing coalition collapsed. Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, credited with saving the euro during the debt crisis a decade ago, is considered a giant in international economic circles. Meloni is seen as a threat to European stability and values.
Only a few years ago, such a win was seen as highly unlikely. In the 2018 parliamentary election, her party drew a meager 4.4%. Now, with 26% of the vote, she heads a coalition that includes the anti-immigrant League of Matteo Salvini (8.9%) and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (8.3%). “If we are called to govern the nation, we will do it for everyone, to unite people rather than divide them,” Meloni said in her victory speech. Yet, many Italians, as also suggested by the historically low 64% voter turnout, do not feel that way. During the election campaign, Meloni—who as a young activist used to publicly praise the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini—promised to limit access to abortion, slammed “LGBT lobbies,” and railed against “Brussels bureaucrats.”
In the corridors of the European Parliament and elsewhere, however, her off-putting views are not the only matter of concern. Meloni, with very little technical experience, will have to deal with rampant inflation, surging energy costs and perennially high unemployment. Furthermore, Meloni will have to walk a very thin line when it comes to satisfying her euro-skeptic supporters and handling foreign relations. Italy’s public debt stands at over 150% of GDP, and keeping it under control depends on the dispensation of the generous EU Covid recovery aid package negotiated by Draghi. As the leader of the Eurozone’s third largest—and too big to fail—economy, Meloni would be reckless to bite a hand that feeds her country.