Election results in Italy: Voters reward Giorgia Meloni’s party as far-right on course for a clear majority

Italian voters rewarded Giorgia Meloni’s Eurosceptic party with neo-fascist roots, propelling the country towards what is likely to be the first far-right government since World War II, based on partial general election results.

In a victory speech, Ms Meloni struck a dovish tone after extrapolations based on votes counted by about two-thirds of the polling stations showed her party, the Brothers of Italy, ahead of other candidates in Sunday’s vote.

“If we are called to govern this nation, we will do it for everyone, we will do it for all Italians and we will do it with the aim of uniting the people (of this country),” Ms Meloni said in Rome party headquarters.

“Italy chose us,” she said. “We will not betray (the country) as we never have.”

Forming a coalition government with the help of Ms Meloni’s right-wing and centre-right allies could take weeks. If Ms Meloni, 45, succeeds, she would become the first woman to hold the post of prime minister in the country.

The mandate to form a government is given by the Italian President after consultation with party leaders.

Meanwhile, former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, whose government collapsed two months ago, remains in a caretaker role.

Differences could be emerging among Ms Meloni’s potential coalition partners.

She has strongly advocated that Ukraine be given arms to defend against the Russian invasion. In contrast, right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini, who was a staunch admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin before the war, has expressed concern that Western sanctions could end up hurting Italy’s economic interests more than punishing Russia’s.

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, another longtime Putin admirer, said his inclusion in a centre-right bloc’s coalition would guarantee Italy’s firm anchoring in the European Union and remain one of its most reliable members.

With Italy’s households and businesses grappling with staggeringly high energy bills as winter approaches, Ms Meloni has backed down from Mr Salvini’s push to inflate already indebted Italy by tens of billions of euros for energy relief.

Amid Ms Meloni’s criticism of the “Brussels bureaucrats” and their links to other right-wing leaders, Europe has been watching closely what kind of government the eurozone’s third largest economy could get.

She recently defended Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after the European Commission recommended suspending billions of dollars in funding to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding and the possible mismanagement of EU funds.

After opinion polls leading up to the vote suggested she was on course to victory, Ms Meloni began hosting her message of “God, home and family” in an apparent attempt to reassure the European Union and other international partners who are concerned about EUro skepticism.

“This is the time to take responsibility,” said Ms Meloni, who appeared on live TV and described the situation for Italy and the European Union as “particularly complex”.

She promised more detailed comments later Monday. In her campaign, she slammed European Union officials for being overly bureaucratic and vowed to protect Italy’s national interests when they clash with EU policies.

Projections, based on votes counted by nearly two-thirds of the polling stations in Sunday’s vote, showed Ms Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party would win around 25.7% of the vote.

This compares to about 19.3% of the closest challenger, the centre-left Democratic Party of former Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

It was forecast that Mr Salvini’s league would win 8.6% of the ballots, about half of what he received in the last 2018 election. Mr Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party seemed on course to gain 8%.

Ms Meloni’s meteoric rise in the European Union’s third largest economy comes at a critical time as much of the continent struggles to cope with rising energy bills, a result of the war in Ukraine and the West’s determination to stand united against Russian aggression. is put to the test. In the last elections in 2018, Ms. Meloni’s party won 4.4%.

Other Eurosceptic politicians were among the first to celebrate. The party of French politician Marine Le Pen also welcomed the result as a “lesson in humility” to the EU.

Santiago Abascal, the leader of Spain’s far-right opposition party Vox, tweeted that “millions of Europeans are pinning their hopes on Italy,” adding that Ms Meloni had “shown the way for a proud and free Europe of sovereign nations that can work together on behalf.” security and prosperity for all”.

According to the Interior Ministry, nearly 64% of eligible voters walked out. That’s far below the previous record for low turnout of 73% set in 2018.

Italy has had three coalition governments since the last election – each led by someone who had not run for office, and that seemed to alienate many voters, pollsters said.

Ms Meloni’s party was forged from the legacy of a neo-fascist party founded shortly after the war by nostalgics of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Italy’s complex electoral law rewards electoral alliance. Ms Meloni received a boost when she joined forces with Mr Salvini and Mr Berlusconi’s campaign forces.

The Democrats went into the vote at a clear disadvantage because they were unable to form a similarly broad alliance with the left-wing populists of the 5-Star Movement, the largest party in the legislature that just ended.

Led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the 5-Stars appeared to be heading for third place with around 16% of the vote. Had they joined forces with the Democrats in a campaign agreement, their coalition would have taken about the same percentage of Ms. Meloni’s alliance.

Sunday’s election came six months early after Mr Draghi’s pandemic unity government, which was popular with citizens, collapsed in late July after the parties of Mr Salvini, Mr Berlusconi and Ms Conte lost their support in a vote of confidence had refused.

Ms Meloni kept her party of the Brothers of Italy in opposition and refused to join Mr Draghi’s unity government or the two previous coalitions led by Mr Conte.

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/italy-election-results-voters-reward-giorgia-melonis-party-as-far-right-on-track-for-clear-majority-42016548.html Election results in Italy: Voters reward Giorgia Meloni’s party as far-right on course for a clear majority

Fry Electronics Team

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