Italy’s far-right “Christian mother” Meloni

Italy’s far-right “Christian mother” Meloni


As a youthful activist she praised Mussolini, but Giorgia Meloni has transformed herself and her post-fascist party, Brothers of Italy, from radicals on the political fringes to a national force now tasked with leading the government.

Relentlessly intense, the 45-year-old has forged a strong personal brand that resonated with disaffected voters in last month’s election, which led to her being named Italy’s first female prime minister on Friday.

Meloni, who rails against the European Union, mass immigration and “LGBT lobbies,” sees herself as a defender of Italy’s traditional Christian values ??and rejects what she calls the politically correct rhetoric of the left.

“I’m Giorgia, I’m a woman, I’m a mother, I’m Italian, I’m Christian,” she declared at a rally in Rome in 2019.

She was the only major opposition to Mario Draghi’s outgoing government, a role she played sensibly, backing him in support of Ukraine while challenging him on most other issues.

In doing so, Meloni built an image for herself as a stable, no-nonsense politician that Italians could trust—despite her party’s neo-fascist roots, which she dismissed as history without entirely renouncing it.

During the election campaign, her rivals portrayed her as a threat to democracy, a line of attack that many admit was now overblown.

However, many Italians fear what their socially conservative views will mean for hard-won civil rights in a country where the Vatican and traditional values ??still rule.

She insists that a family means one mother and one father — even though she and her partner are unmarried — and opposes abortion, saying she won’t change the law but wants women “to know that others do.” opportunities exist”.

– Ready to rule –

Meloni was born in Rome on January 15, 1977 and grew up with a single mother in the working-class neighborhood of Garbatella.

She joined the far-right youth movement at 15, became the youngest minister in post-war Italy under Silvio Berlusconi at 31, and co-founded Brothers of Italy in 2012.

The party won just four percent of the vote in the 2018 elections but will now lead the government as part of a coalition with Matteo Salvini’s Anti-Immigrant League and Forza Italia’s Berlusconi.

She acknowledges concerns about her lack of experience, especially at a time when Italy is grappling with rising inflation and an energy crisis linked to the war in Ukraine.

The slogan ‘Ready’, featuring Meloni’s smiling face, graced billboards across the country during the election campaign.

In view of Italy’s enormous debt, she has emphasized budgetary discipline, despite calls from her coalition for tax cuts and higher social spending.

Her stance on Europe has softened over the years – she no longer wants Italy to leave the EU’s common currency and has been a strong supporter of the bloc’s sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine war.

However, she says Rome needs to do more to defend its national interests and has backed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in his struggles with Brussels.

– Neo-fascist past –

Meloni was a teenage activist from the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), formed after World War II by supporters of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Aged 19, while campaigning for the far-right National Alliance, she told French television that “Mussolini was a good politician because everything he did was for Italy”.

After being elected MP for the National Alliance in 2006, she changed her tone, saying the dictator made “mistakes,” notably the racial laws, his authoritarianism, and entering World War II on the side of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Her party takes its name from the first line of Italy’s national anthem, and its logo features the same flame used by MSI in the green, white, and red of the country’s flag.

She has rejected calls to change the logo, insisting the flame has “nothing to do with fascism” while insisting there is “no place for nostalgic attitudes” in her party.

Meloni has a daughter born in 2016 with her TV journalist partner.

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