People|Italy may welcome its first female prime minister: Meloni and her far-right "charm offensive"

"We are proud of who we are and what we represent!" shouted a blond woman standing in front of a large screen in colors of star and stripes. Despite a slight Italian accent, her English is fluent and clear, and her voice is full of air.

“This is a time when everything we are to who we are is at stake: our personal freedoms are at stake, our rights are at stake, our national sovereignty is at stake, prosperity and well-being of our families is under attack, our children are under attack.” Our education is under threat... Faced with this situation, people realize that these days only way to rebel is to defend their identity, and only way to rebel is conservatism!"

At US Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in May of this year, after former US President Trump and other right-wing stars took stage, atmosphere was overwhelmed by Georgia Meloni, new conservative political star from other countries. side of ocean.

People|Italy may welcome its first female prime minister: Meloni and her far-right "charm offensive"

Meloni speaking at 2022 CPAC convention in Orlando, USA. All images in this article are taken from Internet

Sophisticated make-up and a dainty white high-waisted suit, no one seems to be able to resist allure of this Italian, a figure who has been out of mainstream of Italian politics not so long ago. He attended CPAC conference as chairman of Alliance of Pioneers and Reformists (ECR) and also received praise from "national teacher" Trump Bannon.

"Like Mrs Thatcher, she will face opposition, but like Thatcher, she will win." In September 25 Italian parliamentary elections, Meloni led far-right Brothers Italia party and won championship in one fell swoop, and is also expected to become first female prime minister in Italian history.

“For years I have said that Italy is global laboratory of populist nationalist revolution.” will transform Italy from a failed, stagnant, bankrupt state of disorder into strongest economy in Europe, providing jobs and prosperity for all."

The victory of center-right coalition on 25th drew attention of right-wing movement around world to Italy. The international media, especially British and American ones, compared Meloni to French Marine Le Pen, and in many headlines she was outright called "Italian Le Pen". Both women carry banner of conservative values ​​in camp of right, and they will naturally arouse associations of observers. However, sudden rise of Meloni was primarily due to political soil of Italy itself.

"Family, God and country"

In Italy, Meloni's "popularity" is largely due to "help" of a left-wing political opponent.

It was a Sunday in October 2019 when various right-wing political parties in Italy held a joint public rally. At time, Salvini, leader of League party, who had already given up and lost his position as interior minister, hoped to use this to revive his momentum and show that he was still "backbone" of Italian right wing. . Another right-wing tycoon, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, plans to integrate traditional right-wing camp, and he too wants to compete for a voice.

Tens of thousands of supporters of right have gathered in Piazza Giovanni in Rome, where left-wing political events are often held. Unlike Salvini, who is considered a "Milanese", Rome is Meloni's native court. It was Meloni's turn to speak, who, with a jerky smile on her face, gently and leisurely joked with audience, trying to kindly start show.

Gradually, topic moved from attacks on specific political parties (Five Star Movement) and other left-wing forces to a more general level of self-identification. wing supporters oppose:

“Family is their enemy, national identity is their enemy, gender identity is their enemy. They want to turn us into Parent 1, Parent 2, Parent of same sex, Citizen X,in short, in a set of codes. But we are not a figure, we are people, so we will protect our identity. I am Georgia, woman, mother, Italian and Christian! These identities cannot be taken away!”

It's not just about choosing and using short, sharp sentences, her appearance is also part of careful preparation. In memory of Luciano Ceres, a professor at University of Grenoble in France, Meloni was a young minister in Berlusconi government in 2008. appearance. Now, however, 45-year-old has lost weight, dyed her brown hair blonde and donned Merkel-inspired, one-of-a-kind, colorful costumes.

"In far right image, if women are young and beautiful, they are admired - they are impressed by their superficial beauty."

At this rally, Meloni's confession was noticed by several mainstream, serious political commentators and media. A day or two later, some media users and UP anchors with a left-wing political background took action to make video "phenomenal proliferation." To make fun of Meloni, they put on a speech with funny background music and title "I'm Georgia" and off we went.

Subsequently, Meloni's camp has adopted a "black fans are fans too" stance, because that can really help create Meloni's down-to-earth image. Instead of a rebuttal, his supporters continued to circulate video and finally made it widely known on various platforms.

In Italy, where political arena is fragmented and voters have long held a grudge against politics, a sudden appearance in election campaign will certainly depend on more than public speaking or popularity of TikTok.

For many years, dominant right-wing force in Italy was either Berlusconi's "Italian Force" party or Salvini's "League" party. law in Europe. They seem to be having a hard time getting "main right" of Italy as a whole right. In contrast, Italian Brothers party, with fascist mass mobilization, and Meloni, whose personal style is "close to people" and has experience in Berlusconi cabinet, have become a more effective combination.

A grassroots, down-to-earth and mixed political outlook with early personal experience, Meloni impressed readers in his autobiography, I Am Georgia, published last year. The book has sold 150,000 copies since its release, making it best-selling product of its kind in Italy.

In book, Meloni talks about how his childhood experiences shaped his political views, as if there were no secrets in his personal history and public could see it at a glance. At same time, he conveys another meaning: as a woman politician, she never clearly separates political ideology from her personal family, emotional and spiritual (religious) life, but instead shapes and reaches each other. Therefore, family, God and Motherland have always been closely connected with it.

The Origin of Left Family

Meloni was born in Romein 1977 in a family of immigrants from Sardinia and Sicily. Although she was born in a well-known wealthy area in north of Rome, her family moved to Garbatella, a poorer area in south of city, when she was only three years old. In recent years, it has gradually been recognized as an area where bourgeoisie gathered, but in those days, Garbatella area was still a place where common people lived. A large number of pre-World War II buildings are still in use, and Italian Communist Party and other left-wing organizations are active here.

Meloni's father, leftist, senior accountant. He soon left his wife and two children to work elsewhere. Of course, this experience was repeatedly played up in Meloni's autobiography, which stimulated her to "keep working." The young Meloni was gradually drawn to political views opposed to his father's and began to participate in events organized by "Italian Social Movement" (ISM). It was a political movement with fascist overtones, with some of its founding members directly supporting Mussolini's regime during World War II and even remaining firmly on Mussolini's side until Italy's surrender in 1943.

It was in youth organization "Youth Front" of "Italian Social Movement" that Meloni gradually accumulated political capital, going from various political "ticket" activities in high school to a real politician. In 1996, Meloni, who was only 19 years old, gave a television interview to French media, stating that he admired Mussolini because "everything he did was for Italy". In 1998, when Meloni turned 21, she became Councilor of District of Rome.

At that time, "Italian social movement" was going through a slow but deliberate process of "moderation" to integrate into Italian mainstream and began to distance itself from its fascist ideological sources. Meloni, of course, is in this background. First she became close to Berlusconi, then she became a member of his government, and then in 2012 she decided to create a new party and established Italian Brothers party.

People|Italy may welcome its first female prime minister: Meloni and her far-right "charm offensive"

Melloni (front row first from right) when he served in Berlusconi government.

In later years, Italian Brothers were nothing more than a fringe opposition party within opposition and were not considered mainstream in far-right camp. However, under Meloni's leadership, Italian Brethren Party consciously cultivated close ties with Catholic Church and American conservatives.

Bannon, who has a "smart eye", has long supported Meloni and brothers in Italy. In recent years, Bannon passes through Rome on almost every trip to Europe, and every time he stops in Rome, he has to make an appointment with Meloni.

In 2018, Bannon told The Guardian how he worked with Brothers Italia, which he called "one of oldest fascist parties". Then he predicted that over time, Meloni's party "will become one of main far-right movements."

In 2017, Bannon announced that he would launch a plan for a "great movement" (the "Movement") in an attempt to unite right-wing fronts across Europe and create a populist "superorganization". His list of targets includes British Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and, of course, Meloni.

People|Italy may welcome its first female prime minister: Meloni and her far-right "charm offensive"

Bannon posed for a photo with Meloni when he visited youth chapter of Italian Brothers Party in 2018

In an interview with The Daily Beast in 2018, Meloni called Bannon an "ally" in her career. "Because we share common ideals, we need to hear what he has to say." Meloni has not shied away from revealing her close relationship with Bannon. with political forces from USA.

In 2020, Meloni was elected chairman of European Union of Conservatives and Reformists, which brings together dozens of far-right parties in Europe, including Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS). Although he came from a populist background and considered himself grassroots, Meloni managed to create an "international face" for himself. In English, she criticized Mexican immigrants for "invading" United States, comparing them to Africans in Italy. Last year in Spain, she was invited to a convention of far-right Vox party, describing herself in fluent Spanish as "a mother and a woman defending Europe from globalist elite."

Now, in context of new wave of refugees caused by Ukrainian crisis, Meloni is naturally not absent, which has once again made immigration and identity an important issue in campaign. However, in her current discourse, issue of immigration management is covered with a layer of civility, and distinction between original North African refugees and current Ukrainian refugees is used by her to further demonstrate "European" and "European" character of Italy's Catholic attributes.

"Let navy bring migrants back to Africa"

Ventimiglia, a small coastal town in northern Italy, is popular with tourists, but has also been a "waiting room" for over a decade for immigrants, most of whom are smuggled into Europe by boat from Middle East and Africa. Make your way here from southern Italy while waiting to cross border into France. As conservative coalition led by Meloni promises a massive crackdown on illegal immigration, there are fears of a new humanitarian crisis in Ventimiglia.

According to a Guardian report, local charities said that since this year a committee formed by Italian Brothers Party, League and Italian Forza Party has fulfilled its promise to voters to close only shelter in Ventimiglia (Roa Shelter), about 100 migrants arriving here every day become homeless. Mayor Caterino Sculino, backed by three parties, even ordered closure of fountains used by immigrants and homeless to bathe. Although Sculino was forced to resign in June after failing to win a vote of confidence, with Meloni's strong rise, trend became irreversible.

Father Rito Alvarez, keenly aware of changing political climate in recent years, sheltered hundreds of people in his local church, San Antonio, which was later closed by Italian government. "We have helped many vulnerable people, but politicallylogical reasons were forced to close, - Rito told media. "People had no other choice but Roa's orphanage, but that too was later closed and people abandoned."

Rito is concerned about this year's election situation. He recalled tough measures that Salvini took as interior minister from 2018 to 2019, including blocking lifeboats carrying migrants, closing shelters and denying migrants work permits. At same time, Meloni, who may become prime minister, said: "Let fleet return immigrants to Africa!"

On August 22, Meloni tweeted a video in which police prevent a 27-year-old refugee from Guinea from raping a Ukrainian woman. “People cannot remain silent in face of brutal sexual violence perpetrated in broad daylight against Ukrainian women by an asylum seeker in Piacenza,” Meloni wrote. Safe.

This tweet caused an uproar in Italian public circles. Cultural figures have accused Meloni of "exploiting victims of sexual violence" and her political opponents have criticized "lewd tactics" for "dirty campaign purposes". The video was eventually removed by Twitter.

"We must manage immigration to protect those who accept immigrants and those who really need us to welcome them." Ukrainians are “the ones who really need to be welcomed”, while immigrants from Middle East and Africa can only bring security risks and cultural erosion to Italy.

People|Italy may welcome its first female prime minister: Meloni and her far-right "charm offensive"

Graffiti by Roman street artist Harry Greb criticizing Italian politicians such as Meloni and Salvini regarding immigration.

While Meloni's political platform includes populist arguments about immigration, patriotism and cultural boundaries familiar to far right, her pro-Ukrainian stance on Russian-Ukrainian conflict sharply separates her from other nationalists in Europe.

In fact, about 250,000 Ukrainians work in Italy as nurses and nannies, and they have close personal ties with many Italians. The “Italian Brothers” clearly saw signal: many ordinary Italians sympathized with Ukrainians.

It is impossible to know whether Meloni's moderate stance on sympathy for Ukrainians is strategic or not morally sound from a "Mother of Christ" point of view, but Meloni's "soft blow" on Ukrainian issue, "leaving Salvini, an ally who once "started" with refugee problem, found himself in a dilemma. In order not to end up on far right of political spectrum, he began to change his rhetoric, even asking Soyuz party to send a convoy of minibuses "to meet with Ukrainian families."

But in fight against Mediterranean migration, right-wing coalition agreed. According to Italy's Corriere della Sera, during recent election campaign, Meloni's attitude towards immigration has become increasingly cautious. She said EU should come to an agreement with North African governments to open refugee reception centers there and to help refugees enter Europe with legal status.

Analysis believes that after Meloni comes to power, right-wing coalition is expected to ask Brussels to set up an immigrant reception center outside European border and stop asylum applications. At same time, a steady flow of immigrants from Ukraine will provide Italy with a new workforce facing demographic challenges.


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