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In The News

‘Post-fascist’ party wins Italian election

Liberal and leftist commentators around the world have been horrified this week by the victory of Fratelli d’Italia (‘Brothers of Italy’) in Italy’s parliamentary elections and the imminent elevation of Fratelli‘s leader Giorgia Meloni to become her country’s first female prime minister.

Fratelli polled 26% of the vote (up from 4.4% in 2018 – one of the most rapid electoral advances in European history), winning 119 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 65 in the Senate.

Meloni will now form a government at the head of a ‘right-wing’ coalition that includes Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration party Lega (formerly the regionalist Lega Nord) who polled 8.8%; Silvio Berlusconi’s right-wing conservative party Forza Italia who polled 8.1%; and the ‘Moderates’, an alliance of small conservative factions, who polled only 0.9% nationwide but won seven seats in constituencies.

(above left to right) Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi and Giorgia Meloni, leaders of the main three parties involved in the new governing coalition.

This is more than simply a pendulum swing between ‘right-wing’ and ‘left-wing’ coalitions. The true significance of the result is the changing balance of forces within the ‘right’ and the fact that the most ‘extreme’ of its four components is now by far the largest. At the 2018 election Salvini overtook Berlusconi to become leader of the ‘right’, but now Meloni has overtaken Salvini.

Fratelli was founded in 2012 as part of the restructuring of ‘right-wing’ politics in Italy, but its origins are in the ‘neo-fascist’ Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI – Italian Social Movement), whose youth wing Meloni joined in 1992.

MSI in turn grew out of Mussolini’s fascist party and (as its name implied) out of the German-backed Italian Social Republic during the last days of the Second World War.

The extent to which Meloni’s politics still resembles racial nationalism, or is simply anti-immigration conservatism, is debatable. Undoubtedly she benefited from having distanced Fratelli from Russian dictator Vladimir Putin since his invasion of Ukraine. Salvini had been much closer to Putin and his credibility has been damaged by that association, to such an extent that his continued leadership of Lega is in question.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán visiting soon to be appointed Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni

Some H&D readers will undoubtedly regard Meloni as a traitor to our cause for having trimmed in the direction of mainstream conservatism. However her own and her party’s ideological roots mean that Fratelli‘s victory is potentially more significant than other European populist successes of recent years.

This is not (yet) a victory for racial nationalism, but it is a giant step in the right direction, in the process of freeing European minds from their post-1945 paralysis.

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