Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, has claimed victory in Italy’s general election, ushering in the country’s most right-wing government since World War II.
When final votes are counted and a coalition officially formed, she will lead a hard-right alliance with two other parties – Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia – both of which did less well than anticipated, sharpening Meloni’s influence.
How could things change under Meloni, in Italy and beyond?
Immigration – or rather, anti-immigration – has formed a major part of Meloni’s campaign, as well as that of her ally Salvini, who has been one of the most influential anti-immigration voices in Europe for around a decade.
She has called for a naval blockade of Africa’s Mediterranean coast to stop migrants arriving on Italy’s shores, and in the past has alluded to the ”Great Replacement” theory, a conspiracy suggesting global elites want to substitute Europeans with migrants.
On Sunday, Pope Francis warned Italians not to vote for parties “raising walls against our brothers and sisters, which imprison us in solitude” – but it looks like plenty of voters ignored him.
In both her book and party manifesto, Meloni describes what she called her ideal immigrants as coming from countries where they “integrate better”, which is considered to be a veiled reference to Christianity. She has charactersied Islam as a violent religion in former speeches and has made proposals to “challenge Islamist proselytism” in the past.
Last week, former Prime MinisterBerlusconi said that Vladimir Putin “has fallen into a truly difficult and dramatic situation” and described the war as a “special operation”, using the officially sanctioned Russian description of the conflict in Ukraine.
When Putin won a fourth term as Russian president in 2018, Meloni said: “The will of the people in these Russian elections is unequivocal.”
While she has said she strongly supports sending weapons to Ukraine and backing Western sanctions against Russia, in 2014 she also said – along withBerlusconi and Salvini – that she supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Sexual and reproductive rights
This summer VICE World News reported on Meloni’s admiration for right wing politicians’ success in the northern region of Piemonte, where legislators in her own party have successfully been able to award funding to anti-abortion groups and grant them access into healthcare settings where they may speak to patients directly.
While Meloni has said she doesn’t want to repeal laws that permit abortions, she described the changes in Piemonte as “a courageous choice” and abortion rights activists fear her victory could lead to similar laws and limits across the country.
Earlier this week, Chiara Ferragni, a designer and one of the country’s biggest influencers with nearly 28 million followers, shared an article on her Instagram account that said Meloni’s party the Brothers of Italy had made it “practically impossible” to have an abortion in Marche in central Italy.
In a speech to Spain’s far right Vox party earlier this year, Meloni also said: “Yes to the natural family, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology.”
Her views have prompted concerns from several corners of the LGBTQ community, from gay parents worrying they’ll no longer be able to adopt because she’s said she opposes it – as well as the use of surrogacy – to trans and non-binary individuals fearing small milestones made this year in gender recognition may be reversed.
Energy and climate
Meloni has said that she will not immediately expand net borrowing to help fund emergency aid for the current energy crisis, and has rejected Salvini’s calls for massive government spending to help Italians pay their gas bills.
She believes that the energy crisis has been triggered by market speculation and might pass quickly.
In a recent analysis of policies across all the parties in the general election, Meloni’s coalition ranked last in a list of green policies and only scored highly in their levels of environmental denial.