Giorgia Meloni Takes Advantage of Italy’s Political Vacuum

Attilio Moro considers the pro-Biden shift by Italy’s prime minister and why her party is expected to do well in European elections on June 6. 

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni with U.S. President Joe Biden during the NATO summit on July 12, 2023, in Vilnius, Lithuania, which focused on the war in Ukraine. (White House/Adam Schultz)

By Attilio Moro
Special to Consortium News

The picture is by now iconic. It shows Joe Biden kissing Giorgia Meloni on the top of her head, standing half a meter below him. She is 5 foot 2 inches. Both are smiling. They have a reason to.

The U.S. president has been reassured by the Italian prime minister that she is ready to do whatever it takes to support America’s effort to defeat Russia and possibly topple its president, Vladimir Putin. 

It was not an easy bet: before her election, Meloni had voiced sympathy for Putin. “We need peace with Russia. It seems to me that Biden uses foreign policy to cover domestic problems” – she had been saying a few months earlier.

Why such a spectacular change of attitude? It seems she realized that being seen as a staunch U.S. ally would clear her from her pro-fascist sympathies. ( She once said, “Mussolini was a good politician.”) It would also cast her as a reliable partner by her European and American counterparts. 

Politico reported last July:

“Biden has told those around him he has been pleasantly surprised by Meloni’s leadership in the war effort but is eager to get to know the Italian leader better, according to multiple administration officials. 

For Alessandro Politi, Director of the NATO Defense College Foundation in Rome, Meloni ‘understood very quickly that when you get into government you have responsibilities and the U.S.A. is a primary ally.’

Her visit to Kyiv in February was a clear sign she was following ‘an orthodox path’ and a moment when ‘she convinced the wider international community that she was in charge of the coalition and that her allies had to follow her political line.’”

So Meloni cut and pasted her foreign policy. On domestic policy, she winks to business, promising tax relief; but also to the middle class, tolerating some tax evasions. There’s nothing new in that: in this respect her model seems to be Silvio Berlusconi’s. 

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It’s the same model to control mass media: as Daniel Verdú, the Rome correspondent for the Spanish newspaper El Pais wrote some days ago, “Meloni manages to control the three main channels of RAI (the public television), as well as gaining support from the main private TV holding, Mediaset, which owns three channels.” 

AGI, the second most important Italian news agency which belongs to Eni, is now being sold (by her government) to Antonio Angelucci, her good friend, political ally and publisher of the three main right wing daily newspapers, Il Giornale, Libero and Il Tempo.  Angelucci is also the main beneficiary of the creeping privatization of the public health system. 

But the most important piece of her legislature will be her attempt to change the Constitution to introduce the direct election of the prime minister, thus inevitably reducing, if approved, the role and power of Parliament. 

That said, Meloni’s most valuable political asset seems to be her style. She speaks a colloquial Italian with a heavy, dialectal inflection. People like it. They recognize themselves. They feel she is on their side. Sheer populism, of course. 


“Call me Giorgia,” she says to everybody with whom she gets in touch. Her email address is available online. Everybody can write to her (as everybody could write to Benito Mussolini during Fascism).

But if there’s someone to read the emails, we don’t know. 

It is quintessential populism. But that’s what got her elected. A strong performance of her party is expected in the next European elections on June 6. 

Proven Endurance

She deserves some respect. Meloni was raised in a difficult neighbourhood, La Garbatella, home to Mafia-Capitale, as Rome’s most powerful crime organization is dubbed. Her father left when she was 11 to be arrested a couple of years later for drug trafficking. She is a single mother. Certainly, she has endured tough times and she’s managed to succeed in the cut-throat world of Italian politics to become the country’s first female prime minister and to remain in power for a year and a half. Her qualities are undeniable. 

But she would never have gone so far without one decisive factor: the collapse of the Italian Left.

Nowadays, she leads the strongest political party in Italy, Fratelli d’Italia, which in the last election went from a mere 5-6 percent to 30 percent under her leadership at the expense not only of Berlusconi’s party, but also the Partito Democratico (PD), an umbrella organization of the Italian Left, with neither leaders nor ideas. 

A political desert. A vacuum, which Meloni has been smart enough to exploit.  

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. Presently he is a correspondent on European affairs based in Brussels.

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7 comments for “Giorgia Meloni Takes Advantage of Italy’s Political Vacuum

  1. Oregoncharles
    May 28, 2024 at 21:52

    Something important is missing from this article:

    What, exactly, makes Meloni a “fascist”? In Italy, of all countries, that has a very specific meaning. I’m only vaguely familiar with Italian politics or her record, but so far, she looks more like a Republican. (Indeed, bringing it back home, at this point Democrats seem more fascist, given their promotion of censorship, than the Republicans).

  2. Robert
    May 28, 2024 at 08:42

    Meloni is a huge disappointment. Thought that she would be a voice of restraint for escalation of the war in Ukraine. However, she did an almost 180° turn. Not as quickly as Speaker Johnson, but still very quickly. It all comes back to an attempt to maintain Western governments hegemony. Like it or not, the multi polar world train is running down the track and with China and Russia allied behind it, the train is not going to slow down. Nevertheless, I would love to hear the “conversations” Johnson (and Meloni) had with US Intelligence agencies that seemed to have scared the bejesus into them. Maybe the loss of Western hegemony will be, as Boris Johnson ranted, an absolute catastrophe for the West.

  3. Carl Zaisser
    May 28, 2024 at 03:46

    What are these two creeps smiling about? Just more false messaging to a very gullible public.

  4. Lois Gagnon
    May 27, 2024 at 20:41

    Fascism is on the march in the West. Any wonder why Russia, China and the global south are planning their strategic alliance? We never learn.

  5. wildthange
    May 27, 2024 at 20:23

    There is nothing unusual or more devious than the NATO war for Roman Orthodox versus Russian Orthodox cult(ure) that appears to be like the the 2 one true churches against each others unorthodox wars over the centuries. Dredging up old quarrels with scores to settle could unsettle the entire planet in planetary religious folly along with a pivot to Asia. Plus all the monotheists of the Middle East with god given rites. Then there is the genocides of Europe that has all of NATO nations tongue tied too.
    It is also too bad the US is now home to a Supreme Court that has secular society tied down for decades of religious rights that liberal versions like Biden’s don’t have to worry about being devout and can continue snaring votes for the foreign religious wars. With their conservatives serving their liberals may lose some of their secular freedoms too.

    • Oregoncharles
      May 28, 2024 at 22:33

      Ukraine is just as Orthodox as Russia.

      This division was true of the former Yugoslavia, but not, I think, of the present war.

  6. Valerie
    May 27, 2024 at 13:42

    “On the eve of next week’s EU election, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is inviting Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to team up and form a right-wing super-grouping that would be the second-biggest party bloc in the European Parliament.”
    Politico 26th May

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