Italy votes in key elections with neo-fascist Giorgia Meloni as the big favorite

The leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, Giorgia Meloni, speaks at a rally ahead of the Sept. 25 elections, in Ancona, Italy, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis, File) (Domenico Stinellis/)

Europe watch uneasily the Italian elections this Sundayin which the neofascist Giorgia Melonianti-European and nationalist, is the great favorite to take control of the government of the third economy of the continent.

The 45-year-old Mussolini admirer has been leading the polls for weeks and could become the first Italian ultra-right president since the end of World War IIin addition to in the first woman who rules the country.

the leader of Brothers from Italyheir to the Italian Social Movement (MSI), a neo-fascist formation founded after the Second World War by supporters of Mussolini, is running in coalition with the far-right League of Matteo Salvini and the conservative forza italy of the everlasting Silvio Berlusconi.

Candidates elections Italy
League leader Matteo Salvini delivers a speech at the party’s annual rally in Pontida, northern Italy, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File) (Antonio Calanni/)

His main opponent is the center-left coalition formed by the Democratic Party (PD) of the former prime minister Enrico Lettathe European formation More Europe and the Green and Left Alliance.

The Five Star Movement (M5S) of the former prime minister Giuseppe Conte presents itself without allies and seeks to be the third party in discord between the two main coalitions, as well as the Third Pole, the centrist alliance between the formations of the former prime minister matthew renzi and his former minister Carlo Calender.

Also participates —and it could not be otherwise in the always fragmented Italian political system— a galaxy of small parties ranging from the extreme left to the extreme right. They have almost zero chances of passing the minimum threshold of votes needed to enter Parliament.

what the polls say

The average of the latest polls and the simulations show a advantage of the center-right over the center-left of between 15 and 20 pointswith the former closer to 50% than 40%.

Among the parties, the Brothers of Italy and the Democratic Party lead the intention to vote with 25% and 21.5%, respectively. They are followed by the 5 Star Movement (13%) and the League (12%).

Candidates elections Italy
Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Rome, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis, File)

With these numbers, then, is all lost for the left?

Not quite. The key could be the undecidedwhich were never so many: 40% of the electorate.

“The historical trend is that around 20-25% of effective voters decide in the last two weeks before the vote, with percentages varying depending on the wording of the question. It means 500,000 more people deciding who to vote for every day. They are many”, explained Giovanni Naso Forti, data analysis expert at the pollster YouTrend.

That’s why, a scenario remains in which the right might not achieve a majority. For that to happen, the center-left would have to put its foot down on its traditional bastions of the regioni rossethe historically left-wing center regions, while the Five Star Movement win in the South of the country.

A small chance, but always a chance

Former Prime Minister and leader of the Five Star Movement Giuseppe Conte (REUTERS / Remo Casilli / file)
Former Prime Minister and leader of the Five Star Movement Giuseppe Conte (REUTERS / Remo Casilli / file) (REMO CASILLI /)

To feed the uncertainty contributes the mixed electoral system which combines single-member districts (which grant 37% of the seats) with multi-member districts (63%) for both Chambers, and makes the result is almost a lottery: just as in the least favorable scenario the right could not achieve the majority, in the most favorable it could reach 70% of parliamentary representation.

A percentage that would allow the Italian Constitution to be modifieddrawn up by the anti-fascist parties after the Second World War, without going through a referendum.

In fact, Meloni has already confirmed that, if the Italians choose her, will change the Magna Carta by introducing presidentialism in the country.

Two visions of the country

Salvini, Berlusconi and Meloni.  Behind the hugs and smiles, the right-wing coalition hides deep differences (REUTERS / Yara Nardi / file)
Salvini, Berlusconi and Meloni. Behind the hugs and smiles, the right-wing coalition hides deep differences (REUTERS / Yara Nardi / file) (YARA NARDI /)

Throughout the election campaign, Meloni —whose motto is “I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am a Christian”— sought to soften his speech, downplaying his youthful sympathy for Mussolini and the controversial past of his party leaders for their connections to fascism and neo-fascism. Several of them continue to give the Fascist Roman salute in private gatherings.

Meloni maintained his moderate line in the closing speech of the campaign. “We are ready and you will see it on September 25, until the last vote to return freedom and pride to the nation”he said at an event in Rome with his allies.

After the victory of the right, he added, Italy will go “with its head held high in Europe and the West” and promised that will be “a trustworthy and serious partner”beginning with the defense of the Ukrainian people from Russian aggression.

“Ours will be a solid, cohesive government, with a strong popular mandate and that will last 5 years”he said, in an attempt to ward off the rumors of deep divisions in the coalition.

Behind the smiles and the hugs, more than one observer points out that the right will win but will not govern due to disagreements on key issues such as the revision of the post-pandemic recovery plan designed by the government of mario draghithe war in Ukraine, public spending and European alliances.

“The right-wing coalition faces serious contradictions. We will see if extremely difficult compromises on vital issues will suffice, starting with the relationship with Europe and the superiority of EU law over national law. If this principle is undermined, Europe is finished,” he said. Roman Prodiformer prime minister and former head of the European Commission, to the daily The Republic.

For most observers, today’s elections are also a plebiscite between Letta and Melonibetween two political visions, one europeanist social democrat and another nationalist far-right

“The ‘moderate’ Meloni announces that she will change the Constitution. The Constitution is born from the Resistance and anti-fascism. The vote on September 25 will prevent it”said the leader of the Democratic Party.

Letta appeals to young, undecided and abstained. Without allies of weight, faces an unprecedented task: prevent, exactly 100 years after the march on Rome with which Mussolini took power, that a post-fascist woman reaches the government of Italy.


Who is Giorgia Meloni, the neo-fascist who may become the next Italian Prime Minister

“Russian shadows over Italy”: the suspicions that indicate Putin’s interference in the fall of Mario Draghi