Unlike what some may think after skimming the recent headlines of popular news outlets, the election of Giorgia Meloni as Italy’s first woman prime minister is not a step forward for feminism or girl power. Rather, Meloni represents a hard-right wing belief system that is anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigration, and, despite Meloni’s personal statements, seemingly pro-fascist.
Meloni is the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, or in Italian, Fratelli d’Italia. This nationalist party does little to hide the fact that they are outright anti-LGBTQ and hope to boost the Italian population through blocking abortions and ‘illegal’ immigration. Meloni helped establish the Brothers of Italy party in 2012 by shaping it to look like the National Alliance, but more nationalistic, Christian, and conservative. The National Alliance was birthed during the post-World War II Italian Social Movement and was influenced by Benito Mussolini’s fascist ideals.
The fact that Meloni not only leads the Brothers of Italy party, but worked to establish it and shape it after a party that was founded by Mussolini supporters, makes it hard to believe her when she claims that she is an anti-fascist. Meloni has continued to contradict herself when it comes to discussions surrounding the infamous Russian president, Vladimir Putin. After Putin secured his presidency in 2018, Meloni publicly applauded him and showed her support for the autocrat. This sparked fear amongst NATO and Ukrainian allies that the sanctions against Russia which were established by Italy’s previous prime minister, Mario Draghi, would be demolished by Meloni and her government. However, when Putin invaded the Ukraine, Meloni put on a front and expressed her disproval of the president’s actions while assuring Italian voters that she would equip the Ukrainian military with weapons. Meloni’s ‘reassurance’ should be taken with a grain of salt as she has yet to take substantive action to prove that she truly is pro-Ukraine and anti-fascism. It is also incredibly difficult to believe that a politician who represents a neo-Nazi party will suddenly abandon her and her party’s core beliefs now that they have secured a win in the election.
Meloni’s recent take on the actions of Putin can be considered a part of her strategy to appear more moderate than she truly is. Despite the fact that Meloni and her party are hard-right extremists, they are clearly aware that publicly defending this stance would cause more harm than good. Not only would Meloni divide herself from the left wing and even moderate right-wing followers, but she would face harsh criticism from politicians, journalists, and intellectuals around the globe. The efforts of Meloni to conceal her true political agenda could be considered intelligent by some, but conniving by others.
In recent years, Meloni has been compared to former United States president, Donald Trump. Despite the fact that Trump did not even try to obscure his political agenda and beliefs when running for office, there still remain similarities between the two right-wing extremists. Both Trump and Meloni refuse to accept transgender ideology as they are each stuck in their conservative, Christian ways. For Meloni, this ignorance plays out in her nationalist agenda which works to grow the Italian population by encouraging women to give birth and continue the Italian blood line. This eerily resembles Mussolini’s agenda which also worked to establish Italian dominancy through growth of the Italian empire. Like Mussolini, Meloni is clearly anti-immigration because she is looking to construct a nation that is ‘pure’ with Italian blood. Again, Meloni’s stance on gender ideology and the ‘traditional’ family makes it difficult to believe that she is unlike her fascist predecessor.
One common trend that continues to cloud around the various headlines is that Meloni is initiating a radical hard-right shift. Although Meloni and her party are radical in their political agenda, their efforts portray a direct continuation rather than a so-called ‘shift’. It was evident in the United States, and now Italy is experiencing the same phenomenon. These hard-right extremists have been around before and after the fall of Mussolini. However, there were few popular politicians who were willing to publicly take a divisive stance like the one Meloni and her party have currently adopted. Therefore, just because fascists have not been under the public eye similarly to how Meloni is right now, this does not mean that fascism had been completely wiped out after World War II.