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Giorgia Meloni is a danger for Italy and the rest of Europe | Robert Saviano

Giorgia Meloni presents a danger to the democratic balance in Europe. His leadership seems to be the antithesis of what Italy needs, and not just at this difficult time.

The danger arises for Europe because Italy has always been a laboratory: it has presaged crises in other countries. Italy had Mussolini before Hitler and the far left Red Brigades before Action Directe appeared in France and the Red Army Faction did the same in Germany. Italy had Berlusconi before the United States had Trump. And after years of misrule by Berlusconi, Italy produced the Five Star Movement, the first populist party led by a comedian, before the rest of Europe caught up. Five Star’s agenda was political disruption, often without thought of the consequences.

Meloni’s moral and economic inspiration is Viktor Orbán, the man who in recent years destroyed the opposition in Hungary and achieved legitimacy by using popular consensus as a weapon. He has provided a fleeting sense of security but Hungarians have paid dearly for it in the form of economic instability and, above all, loss of their rights.

the European Parliament declared At the beginning of this month, Hungary could no longer be considered a full democracy. Elections are held, but European norms and democratic standards are ignored to the point that Hungary is now an “electoral autocracy”. MEPs from the Populist League of Italy and the Italy’s far-right Brothers voted against the resolution, and how could they do otherwise? Meloni has never hidden his close collaboration with Orbán and his allies in the search for the common goal to strengthen the European hard right in the name of respect for national sovereignty, the defense of the natural family, Christian identity and the social market economy.

Viktor Orbán and Giorgia Meloni in 2019. Photographer: Fabio Frustaci/EPA

the couple has announced their meetings with friendly selfies on social media After all, they sing from the same socially conservative hymn sheet music on abortion, LGBT rights and migration. They share a goal: societies based not on individual rights guaranteed by European law but on sovereign authoritarianism.

Not even a recent report from the economic watchdog of the Hungarian parliament, which warned that an increase in women graduates and female representation in the workforce was harming men, threatening population growth and the economy, made Meloni question her support for Orbán.

Furthermore, his enthusiasm for Hungary’s economic policies, especially his single tax, betrays his naivety and should alert to a financial collapse in Italy during his term.

It is in her support of people like Orbán that we see what seems to be the real danger that Giorgia Meloni represents.

Meloni’s party has managed to expand its electoral base in Italy over the years by poaching militants from other parties ready to jump on the bandwagon of what was supposed to be a winner. This high-risk strategy has worked, although it has brought the Brothers of Italy into controversy and several ongoing judicial investigations into the candidates’ alleged involvement in the investigations. corruption, extortion, slovenliness other illegal waste disposal. However, Meloni has been able to reassert his credibility by expelling the troublemakers and publicly distancing them. The only figures he seems to have a hard time repudiating are politicians whose identity is based on far-right ideology.

Meloni denies that he is a fascist. I don’t think he’s the most important point on the agenda for his match, but he’s worth addressing. It’s a simple game: Parties whose lineage traces back to neo-fascist movements have worked hard to detoxify and soften their image, declaring their opposition to anti-Semitism, racism and the fascist historical experience.

Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, c1940
Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, circa 1940. Photographer: Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Meloni whistles at his neo-fascist political ancestors with the Mussolini-era slogan “God, country, family.” She did it in 2019, shouting from the stage at a rally in San Giovanni: “I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am a Christian.” She reaffirmed it that same year, at the World Congress of Families in Verona, where she was even more explicit, promising: “We will defend God, the country and the family.”

During an interview in the current election campaign, she said that”it gave, homeland, family(God, country, family) was not a fascist slogan, but a beautiful declaration of love. To those who remember with chills that during the fascist regime it was everywhere, painted on village walls, on office entrances and printed in school books, she replied that the original quote was from the Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini.

God, for her, does not seem to represent faith, but rather a branch of Catholicism imposed as the only religion worthy of rights. The borders of the country must be defended, with violence if necessary, and the family is not the cradle of affection, but of imposition, obligation and prescription. the the family is always heterosexualtheir children born and recognized in the imposed manner.

The tricolor Brothers of Italy logo on a flag at a rally in Rome on Thursday. Photographer: Vincenzo Nuzzolese/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock

Meloni’s The actual beliefs and goals may not seem exactly the same, but their words can often have echoes of Mussolini. His speeches play with the need for identity, in the very human fear of being marginalized or going unnoticed. In their hands, identity becomes a propaganda tool to divide the world between Us and Them, where “they” are LGBTQ+ communities, migrants or those who do not see themselves represented in the established structures or the labels imposed by others. The impression he gives is that they are the bad guys, those who endanger the identity of the entire nation. Totalitarianism, since the beginning of time, has taken advantage of such fears to convince people to voluntarily deprive themselves of their own rights, with the promise of being defended from an external enemy.

Although he denies any connection to fascism, Meloni seems to want to retain the support of the radical right wing who consider his party too moderate and only vote for him to offset the numbers against the left. To completely repudiate the fascist roots of the party would seem to mean losing many of these votes.

On the other hand, the continued association with neo-fascism would put Meloni in a very awkward position internationally. Therefore, he has opted for a change of brand, but it is partial. The Brothers of Italy retain the same logo – an Italian tricolor in the shape of a flame – used by the now defined neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI), founded in 1946 by supporters of the regime such as Pino Romualdi, a leading figure of the fascist party, and Giorgio Almirante , who was convicted of collaborating with Nazi troops.

From left, Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi and Giorgia Meloniat at an election rally.
From left, Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi and Giorgia Meloni at an election rally. Photographer: Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Meloni appears as the most dangerous Italian political figure not because he explicitly evokes fascism or blackshirt practices. squadron (military), but because of its ambiguity. During the electoral campaign he promoted a democratic, liberal-conservative side. He condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has expressed his support for NATO and military aid for Kyiv. But he opposed EU sanctions on Russia after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. And in his In the 2021 book I Am Giorgia, he wrote that Putin’s Russia “upholds European values ​​and Christian identity.”

Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League, gets the blame for his admiration for Putin, but the radical right in Italy has positioned itself more broadly close to Putinism. Meloni avoids Salvini’s mistakes. However, both were, along with Berlusconi, part of the political alliance that most supported closer economic ties with Russia.

Meloni in his ambiguity, has directed his attacks at migrants. He has fueled the fears of Italians, he has created an enemy, a scapegoat to blame for public incompetence and mismanagement.

During the electoral campaign, he has tried to pass himself off as a moderate, silencing his message and advancing what he claims are new ideas to solve the so-called migratory emergency and restore the Italian spirit.

The extreme right can be successful in Italy because the left has failed, exactly as in much of the world, to offer credible visions or strategies. The left asks people to vote against the right, but it lacks a political vision or an economic alternative. The left sounds elitist when it communicates, while the right has found an oversimplified discourse: keywords, slogans, concepts reduced to the most basic, especially about immigrants, from whose violence and terrorism Italians seem to have to be saved. Not surprisingly, Meloni had no qualms, despite public outcry, about tweeting the video of a rape allegedly perpetrated by an asylum seeker.

Meloni is, I think, dangerous because she is closer to the Berlusconi school of political lies and the populist playbook that says the more total a lie, the more people will believe it.

Be careful, because where Italy goes, the rest of Europe will soon follow.

Roberto Saviano is an Italian author, essayist and screenwriter. His 2006 book Gomorrah, an exposure of organized crime in Naples, was adapted into a film and television series.

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