Giorgia Meloni’s win in Italy is a model for Trump Republicans in midterms

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ROME. Hours after Giorgia Meloni’s party won the election in September, American conservative strategist Greg Price shared the clip after posting a call on Twitter about the soon-to-be Prime Minister of Italy. In the video, she warned of an ongoing global assault on gender, family and religion by unnamed forces seeking a world where forms of identity cease to exist.

“I cannot define myself as an Italian, as a Christian, as a mother, as a woman – no!” Meloni says in the clip, from 2019. languages. “I have to be x citizen, x gender, 1 parent, 2 parent.

The clip, which has been liked more than 200,000 times, has gone viral among Trump-supporting Republicans. And the feedback was disgusting.

“So beautifully said” said spokeswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

“Impressive”, said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

“Here is the pattern for November 8th. said Steve Cortesformer Trump campaign adviser.

As the first head of a far-right government in post-war Western Europe, Meloni became a significant point of reference for MAGA republicans, who interpreted her rise as an affirmation of their values ​​and goals. In their narrative—predominant on social media and right-wing media—Meloni is a truth-teller who speaks out about her convictions, who has not caved in the face of a woke left and overcome a hysterical media that calls her a fascist. , racist and worse.

Far-right leader changing Italy’s tone

“It’s something I can relate to because they’re doing the same thing to me,” Kari Lake, a Trump-affiliated Arizona gubernatorial candidate who is running for the 2020 seat, told Fox News. elections.

There is no doubt that Meloni’s rise to power is extraordinary – and if she succeeds in ruling Italy, she could pave the way to power for other once European figures.

She has gained traction in the United States because in some ways her rhetoric mirrors that of Donald Trump. She drew heavily on the idea of ​​a forgotten middle class despised by the elite, and portrayed herself as a defender of the underdog.

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“The narrative of the people against the government,” said Maurizio Molinari, editor-in-chief of La Repubblica. “She imitates and in a sense translates to the Italian public some of the messages that helped Trump.”

Molinari, who reviewed samples of right-wing U.S. media coverage of Meloni at the request of The Washington Post, concluded: “She’s winning; we will win This is their story.”

But there are also some misconceptions Americans have about what led to Meloni’s rise.

Italian Giorgia Meloni sets the agenda, says she has no sympathy for fascism

While social media conversations among Republicans tend to focus on her fiery culture war speeches, assuming those views drive her popularity, Meloni says her stances on such issues likely cost her votes. This summer, when the collapse of Italy’s government led to elections and a clear path to power, she abandoned her most controversial and extreme language. For example, she no longer skewered the “LGBT lobby” and no longer saw migration as “ethnic replacement.” She also tried to clearly convince the establishment in Brussels and Washington that she would govern Italy according to the usual foreign policy: pro-Atlantic, anti-Kremlin. In short, she managed to do what Republicans once hoped for and never got from Trump: She moderated.

Still, some Americans on the right saw her victory as a demonstration of popular rebellion against the establishment.

After Italy’s election, Fox News host Tucker Carlson devoted much of his one-night program to Meloni, portraying Italy as a landscape “ravaged” by neoliberalism and its open-border policies, with parts of the country made “downright dangerous” by migrant crime. Meloni, he said, was one of the “very few politicians … who wanted to speak the obvious truth out loud.”

“It’s a revolution,” Carlson said.

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Giorgia Meloni in an interview with The Washington Post.

The reality is more complicated. Italy did indeed revolt, but in 2018, when it handed over power to populist parties, who then fought each other and squandered their popularity. Those setbacks, combined with long-term problems — persistent and ongoing recession, high public debt, limited youth employment — have fueled a sense of political apathy and skepticism that any policy solution will work. Voter turnout in September was the lowest on record.

Meloni benefited from her years in opposition, where she succeeded in suppressing the support of her right-wing rivals. However, this does not mean that she has secured the loyalty of the people. Some voters say they’re not sure they’ll get it back even a year from now.

Daniele Albertazzi, an Italian professor of politics at the University of Sarre, noted that for three decades between 42 and 48 percent of Italians voted for right-wing parties.

Meloni’s party takes a hardline stance on social issues, making its coalition different and fairer than any previous post-war government. But Meloni also filled key cabinet positions with acquaintances from Silvio Berlusconi’s previous governments, a nod to many centrists who voted for her.

“It’s hardly a revolution,” Albertazzi said.

The reasons for the success of the extreme right in Italy

For American viewers, one of the biggest topics of debate concerns the roots of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party. Her party, created a decade earlier, was descended from an earlier group founded after the war by Mussolini sympathizers. The brothers in Italian politics are not fascists, and Meloni herself said she “never felt sympathy” for such beliefs. But her party has many members who publicly saluted the Fascists or celebrated the rise of Mussolini. Her government also took no action when several thousand Italians recently marched with fascist symbols in Predapio, Mussolini’s hometown.

In the eyes of Republicans, international media reports on Meloni are troubling, unfairly associating her with fascism. Several TV segments on Trump-aligned media channels featured a series of breathless headlines or MSNBC clips.

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“[It’s] the left-wing media is doing what it does best, labeling sane conservatives as far-right,” the Newsmax host said before speaking with Rep. Ralph Norman (RS.C.). “We’ve seen the same thing happen at home with MAGA sponsors.

“Giorgia Meloni is a breath of fresh air,” Norman said. “This is a preview of upcoming attractions” US November. in the middle

Filippo Trevisan, an Italian associate professor at American University who specializes in political communication and reviewed several US media clips at The Post’s request, said that neither the left nor the right in America “could really represent the turn. which took Italian politics”.

The integration of the far right in the West is complete

Meloni, for her part, has worked for years to build relationships with Republicans and spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando in February. In an August interview with The Post, she deflected a question about whether she felt more aligned with a wing of Trump’s party or with those who oppose his ideological takeover.

“I’m not interested in participating in the debate in the Republican Party,” she said, “because it would be too complicated for me.”

It should be noted that at a time when the notion of electoral fraud was so deeply embedded in the Republican Party, Meloni never suggested (before or after the vote) that the Italian parliamentary elections could be questionable. Meloni paid tribute to her centrist predecessor, Mario Draghi, when the result gave her the chance to be prime minister appointed by Italy’s president. And when she spoke before parliament last week, she celebrated the smooth transition of power.

“So it should be in large democracies,” she said.

Stefano Pitrelli contributed to this report.


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