The Italian Republic was born from the ashes of Fascism, with the post-war constitution enshrining pluralism. Giorgia Meloni, nonetheless, got the majority of the vote, reports Attilio Moro.
By Attilio Moro
in Pula, Italy
Special to Consortium News
A hundred years later almost to the date, on Oct. 23, Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Fratelli d’Italia (FI) (Brothers of Italy) — seen by many as a neo-fascist party – was sworn in as prime minister of the new Italian government.
Meloni was elected with a comfortable majority on Sept. 25. She’s been, in the last couples of years, an ascending figure in Italian politics, praised by some for her direct manner of speaking, for instance, declaring that Italy will renegotiate its membership in the European Union; that it will rein in immigration; and that the “fatherland” and the family must be protected from the ravages of modern society.
During the campaign, the ‘leftist’ Democratic Party confronted her, saying she represents an ideology doomed by history. The Italian Republic was born from the ashes of Fascism with the post-war constitution enshrining pluralism. Meloni, nonetheless, got the majority of the vote.
This raises three questions:
1: Does Meloni’s popularity mean Fascism is back in Italy?
2: Is Meloni really a fascist?
3: Whether she is fascist or not, can her government enforce a program significantly different from the previous one?
Huge Boycott of Vote
Meloni got 26.5 percent of the vote, from her party’s 4.3 percent in 2018. As spectacular as the jump was, she was chosen by ‘only’ 7,300,000 voters, far from a substantial share of the Italian electorate (more than 50 million).
If one considers those who abstained from voting as a bloc, they would be the real winner with 35 percent of the vote (more than ever before). So if you look at the numbers, Italians are more abstentionist than fascist.
Meloni is 44. She was born in 1978, 33 years after the fall of Mussolini. The party she joined when she was 18, the Movimento Sociale (MSI), was founded just after the Second World War to give a political home to fascists who survived the war.
But during the 1990s, the MSI, which changed its name to the Alleanza Nazionale (AN), underwent a radical change: from Mussolini’s ideology to acceptance of democracy.
It changed from representing the remnants of Fascism into a rightwing, traditionalist party with a populist and nationalist ideology, becoming more acceptable in a globalized world.
On Fascism, Meloni is quite explicit: “I consider Fascism a page of our history, Mussolini made several mistakes, from the racial laws to the declaration of war, no doubt his regime was authoritarian…” .
For her, Fascism is over. It belongs to the “archeology of Italian politics,” as Massimo Cacciari – an iconic leader of the the Italian Left – puts it. Though aspects of it remain, Fascism belongs to the last century.
But what about her radical program? Does her government have the power to enforce its radical program of diverging from the NATO-EU orthodoxy?
No government, even the most proudly nationalistic one, can ignore the fact that Italy has a skyrocketing public debt, and would go bankrupt in 24 hours if it loses EU support (including 200 billion euros in a recovery fund) as well as the trust of financial markets.
On the whole, Italian politics can hardly be defined by which party or coalition holds power. Its foreign and military policies depend on the United States. Economic policy is dictated from Brussels. Its civil rights, such as euthanasia, same sex marriage, etc., is pretty much still directed from Vatican.
Any ambition to ignore those constraints, even from a bold political leader like Meloni, is doomed from the start.
Attilio Moro is a veteran Italian journalist who was a correspondent for the daily Il Giorno from New York and worked earlier in both radio (Italia Radio) and TV. He has travelled extensively, covering the first Iraq war, the first elections in Cambodia and South Africa, and has reported from Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan and several Latin American countries, including Cuba, Ecuador and Argentina.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.