Italy told to expect

Giorgia Meloni says the EU has an 'inadequacy to respond'

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Dr Marina Cino Pagliarello said Ms Meloni, leader of the Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party, had an “ambiguous” attitude towards fascism – while downplaying any idea that she would spearhead a move to remove her nation from the European Union with a so-called Italexit. With Italians going to the polls on September 25, Ms Meloni’s party is poised to become the largest party in the new Senate, in which circumstances she would almost certainly become Italy’s first female Prime Minister.

Ms Cino Pagliarello, a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics’ European Institute, told “Giorgia Meloni to become the next PM raises several concerns re the future of democracy in Italy, and Meloni herself would like to amend the Constitution towards a directly elected president.

“There are not at the moment real dangers for foreseeing dramatic changes, for example, Italy leaving the EU or the Euro.

“Surely, the next months will bring a severe economic and social turbulence in Italy and a potential stop to the growth and structural reforms path initiated by Mario Draghi.”

Addressing Ms Meloni’s ideology, she said: “Whether we call it neo-fascism, post-fascism or radical right, Meloni’s party has often adopted an ambiguous position towards fascism, including sharing one of its key symbol, namely the flag flame.

“However, although governing a largely Eurosceptic and anti-immigrant coalition, she is also a very experienced politician, as she has demonstrated in her carefully crafted public image as a ‘mother’, a ‘Christian’ and a ‘national patriot’.“

Ms Meloni was aware of her surrounding political environment and of the need to establish friendly relationships in terms of foreign policy, Ms Cino Pagliarello stressed.

She explained: “For instance, her pro-NATO stances, as evidenced by her trips in the US and by her previous support to Draghi’s position towards Ukraine, and an overall attitude of reassurance for international markets, are all signs of the extent to which Meloni will position herself and her party in the international arena.

“At the EU level, it is unlikely that she will adopt pro-national and anti-European stances, as she is perfectly aware that she needs to maintain an open dialogue with the PSE and PPE coalition within the EU rather than forming new coalitions for instance with Hungary and Poland which would risk to marginalise her already minimal role within the EU arena.”

Ms Cino Pagliarello also suggested Ms Meloni would resist any temptation to make overtures to Russia and Vladimir Putin, saying: “She is very much interested to have a relationship with the US – thus anti-Putin stances – and precisely because she is currently very marginalised and tolerated at EU level she needs the US support, besides the fact she already had strong ties with Donald Trump.”

Ms Meloni, 45, has courted controversy on a number of occasions during the course of her career.

In 1996 she called former fascist dictator Benito Mussolini “a good politician, the best in the last 50 years” and also lavished praise on Giorgio Almirante, the anti-Semitic founder of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, in which Fratelli D’Italia has its roots.

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More recently, in 2021 she posted a pixilated video on Twitter which showed a woman being raped by an asylum seeker.

The victim subsequently complained after she was recognised as a result of the footage.

In a speech delivered to the National Conservatism Conference in Rome in February, she said: “Our main enemy today is the globalist drift of those who view identity, in all its forms, to be an evil to be overcome, and constantly acts to shift real power away from the people to supranational entities headed by supposedly enlightened elites.

“Let us bear this clearly in mind, because we did not fight against, and defeat, communism in order to replace it with a new internationalist regime, but to permit independent nation-states once again to defend the freedom, identity and sovereignty of their peoples.”

The Italian government yesterday announced it was preparing a new multi-billion euro package to help shield firms and families from surging energy prices, after the country’s main business lobby warned of a looming “economic earthquake”.

Carlo Bonomi, chief of employers’ association Confindustria, said in a radio interview that with energy costs for Italian industry among the highest in Europe, gas prices needed to be capped either at the European or domestic level.

Mr Bonomi said businesses could not wait for a new government to be installed after the elections later this month, calling for outgoing Prime Minister Mr Draghi to take emergency steps.

He warned: “What we are facing is an economic earthquake.”

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told reporters that the cabinet would meet next week to approve “a new decree to curb the increase in energy bills”.

The measures are likely to be worth at least £8.65billion (€10billion, a government source said.

They come on top of some £45billion (€52billion) already budgeted this year to soften the impact of soaring electricity, gas and petrol costs.

Inflation in Italy, which has the third largest economy in the European Union, jumped to 9.0 percent in August from 8.4 percent in July, preliminary data showed on Wednesday.

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