Why Meloni’s win in Italy not sitting well with Berlusconi

Oct 15, 2022, 8:59 AM | Updated: 12:58 pm

FILE - Forza Italia's Silvio Berlusconi, and Brothers of Italy's Giorgia Meloni attend the center-r...

FILE - Forza Italia's Silvio Berlusconi, and Brothers of Italy's Giorgia Meloni attend the center-right coalition closing rally in Rome Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. The resounding victory by far-right leader Giorgia Meloni in Sept. 25 elections for Parliament isn't sitting well with Silvio Berlusconi, the former three-time conservative premier who, 40 years her senior, fancies himself the elder statesman of Italy's political right. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

ROME (AP) — The honeymoon is finished even before any marriage of political convenience in Italy could be formalized.

The resounding victory by far-right leader Giorgia Meloni in the Sept. 25 general election isn’t sitting well with 86-year-old Silvio Berlusconi, the former three-time conservative premier who, four decades her senior, fancies himself the elder statesman of Italy’s political right.

Meloni is expected to be asked next week by Italy’s president to try to create a governing coalition with campaign allies Berlusconi and right-wing leader Matteo Salvini and become premier. Behind-the-scenes divvying up of ministries in what would be Italy’s first far-right-led government since the end of World War II started after her Brothers of Italy party took 26% of the ballots cast, more than those won by the forces of Salvini and Berlusconi combined.

The knives carving out those Cabinet posts are proving particularly sharp.

Salvini on Saturday issued a sort of call for a truce between Meloni and Berlusconi so that three allies’ bid to rule Italy isn’t derailed.

“I am sure that even between Giorgia and Silvio that harmony, which will be fundamental to government, well and together, for the next five years, will return,” Salvini said in a statement released by his anti-migrant League party about the escalating post-election tensions.

A spat between Berlusconi and Meloni turned ugly when the former premier and a media mogul scrawled a list of derogatory adjectives about her on stationery emblazoned with the name of his villa near Milan. He positioned it in the Senate in plain view for photographers covering the election on Thursday of the upper parliamentary chamber’s president.

“Giorgia Meloni,” wrote Berlusconi, jotting down that her ways are “presumptuous, bossy, arrogant, offensive.” A fifth adjective, “ridiculous,” appeared to have been scribbled over, said Italian media, who magnified the image.

As much as political differences — Berlusconi bills himself a staunch champion of the European Union, while Meloni has said national interests should prevail over any conflicting EU priorities — their spat seemed patriarchal.

“In Berlusconi’s etiquette, the woman is courted and maybe even venerated, but a true male cannot take orders from her, let alone accept that she says ‘no,”’ wrote Massimo Gramellini in the daily Corriere della Serra, in his front-page fixture that takes aim at political foibles.

By all accounts, Meloni had vetoed a ministry for a close political aide of Berlusconi who is one of his several female political proteges.

With his self-described weakness for young women, Berlusconi has launched the political careers of female lawmakers from Forza Italia, the center-right party he created three decades ago.

Reflecting Berlusconi’s pique, nearly all of his senators refused to vote for Meloni’s pick for Senate president, Ignazio La Russa, a long-time fascist nostalgist who helped Meloni, now 45, establish Brothers of Italy in 2012 as she forged her far-right political ascent.

The Forza Italia boycott delivered a stiff rebuke to her. Meloni, known for her spunk and sharp tongue, wasn’t blinking.

“It seems like a point was missing among those listed by Berlusconi — that I can’t be blackmailed,” Meloni told private Italian TV La7.

Meloni already stood her ground during the election campaign. When opinion surveys indicated that she was by far the front-runner over Berlusconi and Salvini, those two unsuccessfully tried to wiggle out of long-standing pact that the top-getter in campaign coalitions would become premier should their forces prove victorious.

Together, the leaders’ three parties command a comfortable majority in the newly seated Parliament.

Still, Meloni needs the forces of Berlusconi and Salvini for any viable coalition.

Salvini chafed for days when it appeared Meloni wouldn’t let him become interior minister, a post he held in 2018-2019 and used to crack down on migrants arriving by the tens of thousands on smugglers boats or rescue ships. On Friday, Meloni’s forces backed the election to the presidency of the lower Chamber of Deputies of a League lawmaker, Lorenzo Fontana, an ultraconservative who, like Salvini, has openly admired Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Late Friday, the five-pointed star symbol of the Red Brigades, the extreme left group which terrorized Italy in the 1970s while extreme-right militants were also launching attacks, was scrawled along with La Russa’s name on a Brothers of Italy neighborhood office. It is the very office where Meloni cut her political teeth as a teenager in the youth wing of a neo-fascist predecessor of her own party.

Meloni on Saturday retweeted her party’s description of the vandalism as “clear reference to the dramatic years that we don’t want to live through again and vowed in a tweet to “unite the Nation, not divide it as someone is trying to do.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


President Joe Biden gestures after speaking to graduating students at the Morehouse College commenc...

Associated Press

Biden tells Morehouse graduates that scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war break his heart, too

Joe Biden on Sunday offered his most direct recognition of U.S. students' anguish over the Israel-Hamas war.

19 minutes ago

Rudy Giuliani...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani is the final defendant to serve indictment in Arizona fake elector case

Rudy Giuliani has been served an indictment in Arizona's fake elector case for his role in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

20 hours ago

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday...

Associated Press

Some in Houston facing no power for weeks after storms cause widespread damage, killing at least 4

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday, May 17. Thunderstorms hit the southeastern part of Texas, killing at least four people.

2 days ago

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer...

Associated Press

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer

A man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attacking the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer.

2 days ago

audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents blocked...

Associated Press

GOP advances Garland contempt charges after White House exerts executive privilege over Biden audio

The move to release audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents was blocked on Thursday by the White House.

3 days ago

Asylum processing for new migrants: Changes could come soon...

Associated Press

The Biden administration is planning more changes to quicken asylum processing for new migrants

The Biden administration is planning to quicken the asylum processing for new migrants as an interim step rather than an executive order.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Why Meloni’s win in Italy not sitting well with Berlusconi