The Two Faces of Giorgia Meloni

There is no danger of a revival of Fascism in Italy; it is a functioning democracy with its frailties but with all the necessary checks and balances
Ferruccio de Bortoli
Ferruccio de Bortoli
10.10.2022 04:00

A clear victory went to Giorgia Meloni's right wing. In a coalition in which Matteo Salvini's League was harshly defeated and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia merely salvaged their skins. While they believe they will play a decisive role, they will only be junior partners in a Brother of Italy-led government. The result of the vote was a foregone conclusion. Perhaps one of the reasons for the low turn-out. Nearly five million votes were missing compared to 2018. The most troubling fact, for a democracy, is this. It is not the success of a party that retains the flame of the post-fascist Movimento sociale italiano (MSI) on its symbol. During the First Republic, the MSI was always kept out of what was defined as the constitutional arc. The Missina flame was the only survivor of the many political symbols of the twentieth century. Giorgia Meloni, however, was born in 1977. The reckoning with history her movements have not reckoned with all of them, it is true. But in siding with the West, in the war in Ukraine, she has had none of the same ambiguities as her partners.



Italy is in absolutely no danger of a revival of Fascism. It is a functioning democracy with its frailties but with all necessary checks and balances. And it is also not the first to be hit by a surge of nationalism and populism. The real risk it runs-and the winner herself is aware of having done this-is to slip into a costly international and particularly European irrelevance. Giorgia Meloni is at the head of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). She stands arm in arm with the Spanish nationalists of Vox, with Hungary's Orban. In the eagerness of rallies, she warned her European partners that with a right-wing government their "cakewalk" of dealing with a country that is weak in defending its interests would be over. But as she heads a government, she cannot overlook the fact that Italy - in its energy and social crisis - is the biggest recipient of European subsidies and loans from the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRP). The European Central Bank continues to acquire Italy's huge public debt securities. And if the proposed constitutional reform, with her first signatory, denying the supremacy of European law were to pass, Italy would essentially be out of the Union.


"It is the time for accountability," said Giorgia Meloni commenting on the vote. Ahead of her lies two paths. A wholesome reality path and a lot of common sense could result in the choice, particularly for economic ministries, of personalities who are not eccentric to the European design. To be critical and confrontational with Brussels is one thing. To deny a tradition established in the post-war period, even suicidal. The Union has every incentive for the ripening of a conservative, non-extremist force. The second, unlikely, option is for the eventual Meloni government to follow a "Hungarian," sovereigntists, identity-breaking ridge, which, however, Forza Italia for one would never be able to accept.


Seldom has an Italian legislature begun with a clearer result and the prospect of a steady government. Meloni is both patient and tenacious. Otherwise, she would not have built and led to success a movement that had only 4 percent in 2018. She understands that the vote in Italy is volatile. It is gained and lost quickly. Renzi, Salvini and Di Maio teach. The latter, the current foreign minister, does not return to Parliament defeated by a minister (Sergio Costa) whom he chose while the Five Stars with Giuseppe Conte - whom he wanted as premier - get an excellent result. By adding their votes to those of Enrico Letta's defeated PD (now resigned) and the "third pole" of Carlo Calenda and Matteo Renzi, a hypothetical center-left coalition would have won. But they didn't even try.