Reviews |  Giorgia Meloni's victory will make her a new Republican favorite

Reviews | Giorgia Meloni’s victory will make her a new Republican favorite

“Of course I don’t want women to be slaves, but if I proposed to give our women the vote, they would laugh at me,” Italian dictator Benito Mussolini told German journalist Emil Ludwig in 1932. “She shouldn’t count in politics. Life.” Ninety years later, the figurehead of Italian politics will finally be a woman: Giorgia Meloni, leader of the neo-fascist party of the Brothers of Italy, should become Prime Minister after his party won 26% of the votes in Sunday’s election.

Il Duce might not have been unhappy that Meloni had the job he once held, given his past to rent out for him as a leader, fruit of his years of activism in the neo-fascist party of the Italian Social Movement, founded in 1946 to preserve Italian fascism. The slogan of his party, “God, Fatherland, Family”, goes back to the regime.

Italy will become more enmeshed in far-right networks that stretch from Vladimir Putin’s Russia to Viktor Orban’s Hungary, from Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil to Republican America.

Today, Italy is the country to have the first far-right government led by women, ending an era of male monopoly of authoritarian governance. What can we expect from Meloni? For starters, Italy will become more enmeshed in far-right networks that stretch from Vladimir Putin’s Russia to Viktor Orban’s Hungary, from Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil to Republican America.

Many of his positions will sound familiar to those who follow authoritarian politicians around the world, including places like Florida and Texas. Meloni opposes “gender ideology, ‘LGBT lobbies’ and same-sex unions that harm ‘the natural family.’ She believes non-white immigration threatens Italian identity – and her version of the theory of the Great Replacement, which she calls “ethnic substitution“, is among the most extreme of its kind. It sees a deliberate plot by favorite enemies of the right, such as George Soros and the European Union, to impose mass immigration in Europe and destroy white Christian civilization. “I think that there is a plan to erase everything that identifies us: the culture, the Nation, the family are under attack”, she said. declared in March 2019.

If that sounds like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson or other Republican figures, there’s a reason. As Meloni told The Washington Post, her party feels a kinship with the GOP and she frequently engages with Steve Bannon and Republican politicians. “We have networks that connect us, our think tanks work with the International Republican Institute, with the Heritage Foundation, we do cultural exchanges, and a lot of their fights are about things that we talked about.”

Always pragmatic – like Mussolini – in 2020, Meloni praised Trump at the National Prayer Breakfast (she was the only Italian politician invited) for his elevation of “God, Fatherland and Family”, and in 2022 she spoke at CPAC Orlando with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

As Meloni told The Washington Post, her party feels a kinship with the GOP and she frequently engages with Steve Bannon and Republican politicians.

Like many Republicans, Meloni has done his best to portray his extremism as commonplace and without exception. “I don’t see myself as a threat, a monstrous or dangerous person,” she told the Post, calling herself and her party “conservatives” for centering freedom, family, strong borders and the defense of Italian nationalism. Yet his radical stances and belligerent personality suggest otherwise. Take this speech she gave in June 2022 at a rally of the far-right Vox party in Spain. No need to understand her Spanish to realize that she is a demagogue whose speech recalls that of the Duce.

Some commentators advise us not to worry, pointing to the high turnover of Italian governments to suggest that Meloni’s time as prime minister will be brief. It may be true. But history teaches us that whenever extremism is normalized, its effects remain in the culture. Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right coalition in 1994 lasted just six months, but broke taboos against neo-fascist participation in government, creating a new reality that made possible Meloni’s career as a mainstream politician . This path was further facilitated by Berlusconi’s later centre-right coalitions, notably when Berlusconi appointed Meloni Minister of Youth in 2008. Each step towards normalization paved the way for today’s unprecedented situation. : a prime minister of a major European country who admires Mussolini and has direct ties to neo-fascism.

It’s a lesson Americans can heed as Republicans bring their own extremists into government, backing the campaigns of Holocaust deniers, oath keepers and participants in the January 6 coup attempt. Republicans continued to cultivate Orban as a mentor in all things autocratic. Meloni’s fascist credentials will likely make her another GOP favorite as Republican America creates its own new political reality to support its dream of illiberal rule.


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