On September 25th Italians went to the polls, and to the shock and horror of many onlookers, it was the far-right ‘Brothers of Italy’ party who came on top. Their controversial leader, Giorgia Meloni, was in line to lead the new government and become Italy’s first female Prime Minister.
Italian politics has been in a state of flux over the past decade, with the economy never truly recovering from the 2008 global recession, being on the front line of the refugee crisis, and the traditional centre-left and centre-right parties falling by the wayside to new anti-establishment ones.
The previous Italian government had initially been a coalition between two of these parties, the populist Five Star Movement and right-wing anti-immigrant Northern League. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, they were joined by more or less every other party in parliament in order to bring some much-needed stability- the one notable exception being Brothers of Italy.
The minor far-right party was shot into the mainstream as for the disaffected Italian masses they seemed to be the only alternative to an ineffective struggling government. When this election eventually came, they had swung up 20% from their last result, topped polls across the nation, and now look set to lead the next Italian government.
Brothers of Italy can trace their roots back to the Italian Social Movement, itself a direct continuation of Mussolini’s Fascist Party. Founded in 2012, the party’s leadership had initially been involved ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s The People of Freedom party. Amongst the party’s founders was the Prime Minister in waiting, Giorgia Meloni.
Meloni began her political career with the ISM’s youth wing before being elected to parliament in 2006, and rising to prominence when she became the youngest minister in Italian history being appointed as Minister of Youth in 2008. Following the collapse of the centre-right Berlusconi government, Meloni and her allies founded Brothers of Italy.
The party has garnered controversy for its extreme views, from ultra-conservative views on abortion and LGBTQ rights to hardcore anti-immigrant and nationalist beliefs, and even defenses of Mussolini and his legacy (in which Meloni herself participated in). Even when compared to the Northern League and other far-right parties around Europe Brothers of Italy are seen as radicals.
Meloni and her party now hold all the power in determining the next Italian government, likely to be a coalition alongside the Northern League and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. For practically everyone outside of their supporters, the rise of Brothers of Italy is seen as a source of great fear, with their radical politics and newfound power being a cause for great concern.
Obviously, a party which unashamed of its fascist roots and holds such extreme beliefs wielding such power has left many in horror and fearful for the future of Italy.
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