But most of these days, amidst the xenophobic insults and leaked pro-Russian recordings, it’s hard to tell whether her far-right coalition is uniting or crumbling.
When the coalition emerged victorious in elections a month ago, the secret to its popularity seemed to inspire other far-right movements by brandishing the issue of culture wars and promising stability in Europe. . The bigger question now is whether members will be able to navigate the internal strife that is deepening the uncertainty and unpredictability of Italy’s political direction.
Much of the turmoil has been caused by Silvio Berlusconi, an 86-year-old billionaire who has served as prime minister four times and currently heads Forza Italia, a sub-party in the ruling group.
First, last week, photographers found a note in which Berlusconi criticized Meloni’s character. “Intimidating, arrogant,” he wrote.
A series of audio leaks later revealed that Berlusconi was boasting about his recent birthday gift from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin sent him 20 bottles of vodka and a “very kind letter.” ” and a pack of Lambrusco wine. Leaks also show that Berlusconi is providing the Kremlin with a favorable narrative about the war in Ukraine, and Putin reluctantly responds to public sentiment by launching a “special operation” to promote a “more sensible leader.” ” in Kyiv.
Meloni replied with an ultimatum: Anyone who disagreed with Italy’s Atlantic and European principles “couldn’t be part of a government at the expense of not forming one”.
Despite the turmoil, Meloni’s rise is remarkable given her party’s ties to the post-fascist movement and the way she pushed Fratelli d’Italia (Italian Brothers) from the fringes into the mainstream. increase.
She said the prime minister’s job would be difficult given inflation, a prolonged economic stagnation, high government debt and the inherent fragility of Italian politics, where governments often struggle to survive for more than a year. .
Far-right politician poised to become Italy’s first female leader
Berlusconi’s comments about Russia pose an additional challenge, as they run counter to Meloni’s vision of a government that strongly supports Ukraine and NATO.
Berlusconi touted his status as a senior Confederate statesman. His own party, although declining in popularity, is generally considered more centrist than its partners, such as the League Party, led by Matteo Salvini, whom Meloni appointed as one of his deputy prime ministers, and Meloni’s Italian Fraternity Party. was regarded as a
But Berlusconi, a self-professed “natural seducer” who combined ego, scandal and television dominance to shape the modern era of personality-driven politics, is struggling to yield ground.
Meloni once served as youth minister under him. Now she heads a party that has three times as many supporters as hers. Noting Berlusconi’s infamous bunga his bunga his partying, demeaning portrayals of women on television, and his habit of commenting on the beauty of women, some critics consider him to be like Meloni. You say you don’t know how to handle character. In a relatively new tool of social media.
After Berlusconi’s list of Meloni’s adjectives was published, she said he left one off the list.
“There’s no adjective. I’m not a blackmailer,” she said, a clear reference to an earlier maneuver when Berlusconi’s party failed to support Senate President Candidate Fratelli d’Italia. In any case, candidate Ignazio La Lusa, known as a collector of fascist memorabilia, won.
The leaked audio reported by LaPresse was a reminder of the Russian sympathy that always lurked in Meloni’s coalition. Meloni showed no affiliation with Putin, but Salvini questioned the effectiveness of Russia’s sanctions, and he once wore a Putin T-shirt during a visit to Red Square.
Berlusconi, on the other hand, has long had a Trumpian weakness for powerful people. He hosted Putin in a villa in Sardinia and in 2015 became one of the few Western politicians to visit the recently annexed Crimea, where he dubbed Putin the world’s “number one” leader.
The far right is likely to come to power in Italy’s elections. Here’s why:
Enrico Letta, leader of Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party, said on Twitter that Italy was “going through a dangerous change” and that its stance on Russia and Ukraine was becoming increasingly ambiguous. The 5 Star Movement, one of the biggest political parties it seems to oppose, has been advocating for months to halt arms shipments to Ukraine.
Berlusconi’s apparent unreliability doesn’t make Meloni’s coalition governing easier, but the dynamic has so far served her to her personal advantage. Advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Mihailo Podoljak, who is said on thursday Berlusconi was “under the influence of vodka”, but Meloni showed “true principle”.
Meloni used to say, “With us in government, Italy will never become a weak point for the West.”
Ferruccio de Bortoli, former editor-in-chief of the Corriere della Sera newspaper, said the government “has built in so many ambiguities and weaknesses that two out of three of its partners are pro-Putin”.
However, he said Meloni “made it look even more pro-Western, even more pro-NATO than it used to be.”
“I think Berlusconi’s variety show politics ended up being a small but meaningful advantage for Giorgia Meloni’s leadership,” he said.
Berlusconi’s stance forced prominent Forza Italia member Antonio Tagiani to serve as Meloni’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and another Deputy Prime Minister. To say that both the party and Berlusconi support NATO and oppose Russian aggression. Berlusconi said on Facebook that his “personal position” included “total and total support for the values of the European and Atlantic Alliance”.
On Friday morning, Meloni told media outlets flanked by Salvini and Berlusconi after consulting with Mattarella about forming a new government. He said he agreed to something.
She said the support behind her was “unanimous.”
At that moment, Berlusconi turned to Salvini and raised his eyebrows.