Friday, December 2, 2022

Italy turns right

Italy has its first female prime minister when 45-year old Giorgia Meloni, was sworn-in on October 23 following a surprise result after her party Bothers of Italy party in alliance with other parties won 46% of the votes. The Brothers of Italy led by Giorgia Meloni got over 26 per cent of the votes polled. The vote share of the main opposition party, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), collapsed to a historic low of 19 per cent. The Five Star Movement bagged around 16 per cent of the votes. The victorious right-wing coalition got 46 per cent of the votes all around. Meloni’s two right-wing coalition partners are the Forza Italia led by the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the League Party led by another right-winger, Matteo Salvini. Together, the coalition partners control both the upper and lower houses of the legislature. On the campaign trail, Meloni emphasized her womanhood and motherhood, though she is not a feminist. She has also taken a hard line against immigration- suggesting that the Italian Navy patrol the Mediterranean to keep migrants from arriving by sea. The liberal media has not warmed up to Meloni’s victory as they see rollbacks to minority rights, including the rights of women, LGBTQ people, and migrants. Her Brothers of Italy party uses an insignia and slogan – “Dio, patria, famiglia,” or “God, country, family” – which echo its fascist predecessors. Meloni will have to contend with a series of major issues – some of which, like immigration, a tax system overhaul, and judicial reform- have plagued Italy for years, across many governments, seemingly without a tenable solution. In another well-quoted speech from 2019 she said: “I am Giorgia, I’m a woman, I’m a mother… I’m Christian.” For the role of Italy’s new family and birth rate minister, she has picked Eugenia Roccella who has spoken out against abortion and threatened to reverse recently agreed rights for same-sex parents. Meloni may have picked an anti-abortion minister but she has promised to fully enforce the law that protects access to abortion. Same-sex couples have fewer rights in Italy than many other European countries, and Meloni has no plans to overturn existing laws. But she has spoken out against adoptions and surrogacy involving LGBT couples. Ahead of her swearing-in, Giorgia Meloni has sent a strong message to her allies that the new government will take a clear pro-West position which came in response to former prime minister and Forza Italia (a coalition partner) Silvio Berlusconi’s warm words for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Italy has voted for a party that has promised to reassert Italian ethos as opposed to appeasement politics of the centre and left. The path that Italian voters have taken is for change amidst apprehension economic downslide due to the Ukraine war and also being swarmed by migrants. In a nutshell, Meloni has promised that good times are here and in a sense make Italy great again. These ring a familiar tone which used to be the favourite of former US president Donald Trump but the difference is that Italy is not the USA and Meloni is Trump but both share the same ideology. However, for the liberal media that is enough to brand her as extreme right; meaning a threat to liberal democracy. If Meloni can meander through and survive, she has the opportunity to set the trend for the west.

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