Until recently, in Spain, Giorgia Meloni (Rome, 45 years old), the president of the party of populist far right Brothers from Italy, was practically a stranger; and yet her name is today impossible to ignore. This is valid not only for Italy, but for all European countries. Because the peak of Meloni’s career coincides with a scenario that makes the capitals of the main Western and democratic countries shiver: the possibility, very specific according to the polls, that this policy, born in the heat of the reminiscences of the postfascism, win the elections on September 25 in Italya founding country of the European Union (EU).
Such a reality is surprising considering not only the radical ideological mold of Meloni, but also the vertiginous rise of the Brothers of Italy. A party founded in 2012 that, in the 2014 European elections, achieved a disappointing 3.67% of the vote, and that, in the Italian general elections four years ago, barely won the 4.35%; that is, around 20 points less than the intention to vote currently indicated by various polling companies.
There is a fact that analysts often repeat to give an answer to how Meloni got here: that on two occasions he resigned, at difficult times for Italy, to join Executives who had opened the door for him. It happened when in 2018 the populist 5 Star Movement (M5E) allied itself with the also right-wing League of Matteo Salvini. And he happened again with the appointment in 2021 as prime minister of the former banker mario draghi, who had called for a government of national unity. The turbulence caused by the catastrophes of these years —first the pandemic and then the war in Ukraine—, and its impact on the population, have coincided with the record growth of Brothers from Italy.
However, this accelerated success has not been the result of improvisation; Meloni, she hasn’t been a political novice for a long time. On the contrary, his political origins and his link with the post-fascist right have deep roots, which refer to his own family situation. A story that begins in a humble family, with a Sicilian grandfather who emigrates to Rome to secure a position as a public official, and a single mother abandoned by a father from rich Rome, who preferred sailing the world to spending time with his daughters. . A grievance that damaged his relationship with his father since he was 11 years old, after an argument on the island of La Gomera (Canary Islands), to which Meloni had traveled on more than one occasion until that moment and where he learned to speak Spanish.
It is in this context that Meloni became affiliated, at just 15 years old and during the stormy years of corruption scandals, to the youth movement of the post-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) of Garbatella, then one of the poorest and leftist neighborhoods in Rome. “I did not think that by knocking on the armored door of the Youth Front I would find my second family. A family undoubtedly larger than my original one,” Meloni recounts in his thick autobiography.
Meloni is not afraid to contradict and defend a hard right, with a conservative and Catholic, nationalist and centralist ideological baggage.
Indeed, as she herself says, the last years of high school are also her first political school. These are difficult years in Rome, the old systems of the 20th century are crumbling, and Meloni is not afraid to contradict and defend a hard right, with a conservative and Catholic ideological background (he admires John Paul II and Benedict XVI), nationalist and centralist. And he does it even in the most hostile circles to his way of seeing the world, something that draws attention. “We kicked her out of student meetings but she came back again and again,” confesses a former leftist militant.
This is how the first results arrive. At just 21 years old, she manages to obtain a seat as a councilor in the Rome deputation, representing Alianza Nacional (AN), the party then direct heir to the MSI, and she also forges a solid friendship with Francesco Lollobrigida, grandson of the famous actress Gina, husband of Meloni’s sister, Arianna, and considered today one of the ‘colonels’ of Brothers of Italy. The rise of politics then begins to be unstoppable. In 2006, she is only 29 years old, but still Gianfranco Fini, then leader of AN, asks her to be vice president of Congress. Two years later, With an already high media exposure, she was elected Minister of Youth, a position she held from 2008 to 2011.
It is another transcendental moment of his career. After the abrupt fall of the Government of Silvio Berlusconi, together with a dissident group of the People of Freedoms (party founded in 2007 from the merger of Forza Italia and AN), Meloni criticizes Berlusconi for giving his support to the government of technocrat Mario Monti, and creates the Brothers of Italy. The cry to heaven already then goes to the heart of the EU, to the one that holds responsible for the crisis, while the link is born with Santiago Abascal, the leader of Vox, and the then guru of Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon. With the EU, “I am angry (…) at those who turned it into a playground for technocrats and bankers,” she will say later. Hence also the fear it provokes.
break with the EU
Nobody is certain about the path that Italy will take after September 25, the day of the elections in the country. During the election campaign, the far-right often has repeated that he does not want to break with the European Union or leave the euro. But he has also insisted that his intention is to defend the primacy of the Italian national interest, and has made proposals that involve potential future conflicts with other countries in the European club and with Brussels. “Is Europe concerned that Meloni is in government? The fun is over, we will defend Italy”, he has said on multiple occasions.
Another issue is the project to transform the Italian Republic into a presidential system, which the left fears because it considers that it could lead the country into an authoritarian drift. Similarly, their positions on family and abortion, which Meloni says he does not want to abolish although, in the Italian regions where his party governs (The Marches, for example), associations that defend that women can interrupt their pregnancies denounce great obstacles to exercising this right. Not in vain one of the mottos that (since always) Roman politics proudly reiterates is “God, country, family”.