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Clear victory for rightwing coalition, exit poll indicates

OK, the first exit poll is in, and it’s good news for Giorgia Meloni and the far-right Brothers of Italy.

According to the Consorzio Opinio Italia poll for Rai, the rightwing coalition has won between 41-45% of the vote and the left alliance 25-29.%. That would give the right a majority in both houses.

At this point we should make our regular health warning: Italian exit polls have a very chequered history, and are sometimes wrong. It’s well worth waiting for the projections to come.

Key events

If you’re coming to the blog fresh, and are wanting to know more about Giorgia Meloni, the woman likely to become Italy’s first far-right prime minister since the second world war, take a look at this piece by the Guardian’s Angela Giuffrida.

[MSI was the Italian Social Movement, formed in 1946 by supporters of Mussolini.]

She wrote in her biography, Io Sono Giorgia – I am Giorgia – that she was instinctively drawn to MSI’s youth movement, where she said she found solidarity in a close-knit, if marginalised, community of militants often depicted as evil or violent, who dedicated all their time to politics as opposed to frequenting discos or shopping like their peers.

As we reported earlier, Meloni rejects the idea that her politics are fascist, arguing that the Italian right consigned fascism to history decades ago. She has said there are no “nostalgic fascists, racists or antisemites in the Brothers of Italy DNA” and that she has always got rid of “ambiguous people”.

However, not everyone is convinced. Brothers of Italy has retained MSI’s tricoloured flame in its official logo and its headquarters is at the same address, on Via della Scrofa in central Rome, where MSI set up office in 1946.

In the summer, Meloni, whose party’s motto is “God, family and country”, travelled to Marbella where she expressed her hardline views on immigration and homosexuality during an aggressive speech at a rally held by her party’s Spanish far-right counterpart Vox. (You can watch that video here, too.)

Salvini: rightwing alliance has a “clear advantage”

Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League, has posted his reaction on Twitter, declaring that his alliance has a “clear advantage” in both the upper and lower houses.

It’s going to be a long night, but I want to say THANK YOU

Centrodestra in netto vantaggio sia alla Camera che al Senato!
Sarà una lunga notte, ma già ora vi voglio dire GRAZIE❤️💪

— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) September 25, 2022

There will be much soul-searching for the Italian left in coming weeks if these exit poll results are confirmed. In fact, it’s already begun…

Angela Giuffrida, the Guardian’s Italy correspondent, has filed a story based on those exit poll results, remarking:

If exit polls are correct, the Italian president, Sergio Mattarella, is expected to hand Meloni a mandate to form a government that, if everything goes smoothly, could be in place by the end of October.

(Nothing happens particularly quickly in Italian politics.)

It is likely to be a government with some good friends among Europe’s rightwing populists, she adds.

The coalition’s expected victory, however, raises questions about the country’s alliances in Europe as the continent enters a winter likely to be dominated by high energy prices and its response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Meloni has sought to send reassuring messages, but the prospect of her as prime minister is unlikely to be welcomed in Paris or Berlin.

Germany’s governing Social Democratic party warned last week that her win would be bad for European cooperation. Lars Klingbeil, the chairman of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s SPD, said Meloni had aligned herself with “anti-democratic” figures such as Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

Earlier this month, Meloni’s MEPs voted against a resolution that condemned Hungary as “a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy”. Meloni is also allied to Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice party, the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats and Spain’s far-right Vox party.

Exit poll results in full

To breakdown those exit poll results in full…

In total the rightwing alliance is set to win between 41 and 45% of the vote.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy are on course to win 22-26%, Salvini’s Lega between 8.5% and 12.5%, and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia a very modest 6-8%. (That is why Meloni is the clear frontrunner for prime minister.)

The centre-left, if this exit poll proves right, is on course to garner between 17 and 21% of the vote – not so far behind the Brothers of Italy. But their alliance partners are smaller.

The combined forces of Matteo Renzi and Carlo Calenda’s parties have managed between 6.5% and 8.5%, according to the exit poll.

And the Five Star Movement, which pulled the plug on Mario Draghi’s government? Between 13.5% and 17.5%.

That poll would give the rightwing coalition between 227 and 257 seats in the Camera dei deputati and between 111 and 131 seats in the Senate or upper house.

Obviously those numbers are still vague, but they point to a resounding victory for the rightwing alliance of the far-right Brothers of Italy, the rightwing Forza Italia and the far-right Lega.

If that happens, Meloni is likely to be Italy’s next prime minister: its first woman at the head of a government, and that government the most rightwing since the second world war.

Clear victory for rightwing coalition, exit poll indicates

OK, the first exit poll is in, and it’s good news for Giorgia Meloni and the far-right Brothers of Italy.

According to the Consorzio Opinio Italia poll for Rai, the rightwing coalition has won between 41-45% of the vote and the left alliance 25-29.%. That would give the right a majority in both houses.

At this point we should make our regular health warning: Italian exit polls have a very chequered history, and are sometimes wrong. It’s well worth waiting for the projections to come.

Just minutes to go until the polls close and the first exit poll is expected.

My Guardian colleagues have launched this interactive graphic where you’ll be able to see the results as they come in.

Meloni votes…finally

Angela Giuffrida

Giorgia Meloni votes at a polling station in Rome. Photograph: Yara Nardi/Reuters

Giorgia Meloni has arrived to cast her vote at a polling booth at a school in Rome after postponing her appointment from this morning, reportedly due to a throng of journalists who had been waiting for her.

The change of plan had left the press baffled throughout the day. Meloni will then join the rest of her Brothers of Italy squad for an election party at Parco Dei Principi hotel…where a throng of around 400 journalists are waiting for her.

Lorenzo Tondo

Lorenzo Tondo

Why is Italy on verge of electing its first far-right leader since the second world war?

Giorgia Meloni’s political success owes much to her decision to keep her party out of the Mario Draghi’s cross-party government. The move cemented her as an opposition voice and has given her the leading position in a rightwing electoral coalition tipped to win this election.

But still, how can it be that Italy, which lived through Mussolini’s bloody regime and passed discriminatory laws against its Jewish citizens, is close to electing as prime minister the leader of a party with with its roots in neo-fascism and with some of its members performing the fascist salute during public commemorations?

To find some answers, one must go back to the immediate aftermath of the second world war, when the first issue for Italy to address was national unity. The toppling of Mussolini in 1943 was followed by bloody civil war between a Nazi-backed puppet state and the partisans of the Italian resistance, so when peace came to Europe, fears of aggravating civil tensions overrode the purging of fascists from Italian institutions and prosecuting them for war crimes.

While the Nuremberg trials against prominent members of the Nazi party began in Germany in November 1946, Italy, in part concerned about growing numbers of Communists, had from June of that year run an amnesty programme, releasing thousands of fascists from prison.

Giorgio Almirante, a culture minister in the Nazis’ short-lived puppet state, founded the Italian Social Movement (MSI) with former members of the Italian Fascist party in this climate of tolerance. By 1948, three neo-fascists sat in the Italian parliament.

It is from this heritage that the Brothers of Italy would later emerge. Brothers of Italy today shares its party logo, an Italian tricolour in the form of a flame, with the now defunct (MSI). Many members of Fratelli d’Italia are former members of MSI. Simply put, Italy is a country that never came to terms with its fascist past.

This is an interesting Twitter thread by Daniele Albertazzi, professor of politics at the University of Surrey, featuring the veteran Italy-watcher, formerly of this parish, John Hooper.

If you think that this gentleman + the Italian Social Movement + Bossi’s League in 1994, and then three more times after that… = a”more moderate” govt than what may emerge from the election today… then yes, Italy is turning right. https://t.co/h6HPnqXg8e

— Daniele Albertazzi (@DrAlbertazziUK) September 25, 2022

Albertazzi is arguing against the idea that a government formed by the Brothers of Italy-led alliance would be the most rightwing Italy has had since the second world war.

He cites as an example the government that sprouted from the 1994 election – a coalition of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Umberto Bossi’s Northern League and the National Alliance, successor of the post-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI).

But Hooper disagrees.

I disagree. And for the following reasons: (1) Berlusconi’s party in 1994 had a strong liberal wing that has since withered (most recently with the resignations of Brunetta, Carfagna etc.)…

— John Hooper (@john_hooper) September 25, 2022

(2) Bossi’s League was a completely different beast to Salvini’s. Bossi clashed repeatedly with Fini of the National Alliance (not the MSI), and yet …

— John Hooper (@john_hooper) September 25, 2022

(3) the National Alliance was sufficiently moderate, at least by the 2010s by which time it was part of the PdL, that Meloni & Co. felt they had to quit to form a party that conserved the old traditions of the MSI (whose symbol they adopted)

— John Hooper (@john_hooper) September 25, 2022

If you haven’t had enough of Giorgia Meloni yet, here’s another clip from the Guardian’s Paul Lewis. As part of his series on rising populism, Paul sat down with her and Donald Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon in 2018.

It did not go well.

(The Meloni interview starts at around 12.30 minutes in.)

Lorenzo Tondo

Lorenzo Tondo

Bruno Segre, 104, a former Italian partisan and lawyer, is not scared by Giorgia Meloni, who in a recently surfaced video from 1996 said of the fascist leader:

Mussolini was a good politician. Everything he did he did for Italy.

Before going to vote at the local polling station in Turin, Segre told the newspaper la Repubblica:

The Constitution will defend us (from fascism). I am not afraid of this right and not even of Meloni, who I would define as an illiterate of democracy.





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