AP

EXPLAINER: Is Meloni a far-right firebrand or moderate?

Oct 22, 2022, 12:35 AM | Updated: 12:03 pm

FILE - Brothers of Italy's leader Giorgia Meloni arrives at the Quirinale Presidential Palace after...

FILE - Brothers of Italy's leader Giorgia Meloni arrives at the Quirinale Presidential Palace after a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella as part of a round of consultations with party leaders to try and form a new government, in Rome, on Oct. 21, 2022. As she becomes Italy's first female premier, with the world is watching closely to see if she will emerge as a firebrand leader of a far-right party with neo-fascist roots or the more moderate right-wing politician who captured 26% of the vote, Giorgia Meloni will also be facing issues such as the energy crisis, civil rights, EU recover-fund, economy and internal coalition tensions with her allies. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

MILAN (AP) — As Giorgia Meloni becomes Italy’s first female premier, the world is watching closely to see whether she will emerge as a firebrand leader of a far-right party with neo-fascist roots or the more moderate right-wing politician who succeeded in capturing 26% of the vote.

Here is a look at some of the issues facing Meloni’s new government, formed of her far-right Brothers of Italy Party, along with the right-wing populist League led by Matteo Salvini and the center-right Forza Italia headed by three-time former premier and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi:

THE ENERGY CRISIS

The squeeze facing Italian industry and households will require urgent attention, as concerns grow that astronomically high bills will force business closures and household rationing.

Italy’s Confindustria business lobby has warned that thousands of businesses are at risk as industrial energy costs rose from 8 billion euros ($7.87 billion) in 2019 to 100 billion euros this year.

Meloni has backed a European price cap on Russian gas.

Her coalition partner, League leader Matteo Salvini, has pushed for Italy to take on more debt to help households and small- and medium-size business owners that are the backbone of his party’s constituency in the wealthy north.

RELATIONS WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION

Italy’s European Union partners will be watching closely to see whether Meloni’s right-wing government will align with a nationalist block, including Hungary and Poland, that has repeatedly attacked EU democratic standards.

Meloni has recently signaled Poland as a key ally for Italy in a speech to a Spanish far-right rally, where she also singled out the success of the far-right in Sweden. Meloni also has hinted at a desire to limit the EU’s influence.

“We need a braver Europe when it is time to … respond to big crises and big international scenarios, and a little more humble when it comes to aspects of our daily lives that could be dealt with much better at a national level,” she told the VOX party rally.

On Friday, Meloni chose as foreign minister Antonio Tajani, a pro-EU politician and former president of the European parliament.

ECONOMY AND THE SPECTER OF RECESSION

The spiking price of energy, compounded by inflation on household goods, is raising the specter of recession.

Official third quarter numbers won’t be in until Oct. 31, but calculations by parliament’s budget office indicates Italy’s economy shrank 0.2% from July-September and a further contraction is forecast for the final quarter.

Meloni is tasked with reducing Italy’s public debt, currently the second-highest in the eurozone at 150% of GDP, while maintaining budget stability.

Also, the right-wing League aims to do away with a 10-year-old pension reform that raised the retirement age. And it will be up to the new government to complete a planned sale of a majority stake in ITA Airways to a U.S.-led consortium.

Meloni’s new finance minister is Giancarlo Giorgetti, one of the most moderate League leaders. He is seen as a likely guarantor of the continuity of the economic strategies of outgoing Premier Mario Draghi, in whose government he served as industry minister.

CIVIL RIGHTS AND MIGRATION

Women and minority groups in Italy, from the LGBTQ community to immigrants, fear their rights will be curtailed under a Meloni government. Days after her election, thousands marched through Rome and Milan in support of access to abortion, which many worry will be eroded under Meloni.

Meloni has said she wants to provide alternatives to abortion while promoting Italy’s birth rate, among the lowest in the world.

Meloni has slammed what she calls the “LGBT lobby,” and her party’s program states it is against gay marriage, gay adoption and surrogate motherhood.

On Friday, she tapped ultra-conservative Catholic Eugenia Maria Roccella as minister for family, birthrates and equal opportunities. In 2018, Roccella pledged to work against Italy’s law legalizing same-sex civil unions.

Meloni is also against granting automatic citizenship to children of immigrants born in Italy, and she has harshly criticized economic migrants, calling for a naval blockade to prevent their boats from leaving northern Africa.

EUROPEAN RECOVERY FUNDS

As the EU country with the hardest-hit economy due to a draconian 2020 pandemic lockdown, Italy has access to some 220 billion euros in recovery funds from Brussels.

Former Premier Mario Draghi secured some 70 billion euros of that total during his tenure, and the new government must ensure Italy gets the rest of the money.

Italy and its sluggish bureaucracy has traditionally failed to capture a significant amount of EU funds it has been allocated. The recovery funds are mostly aimed at helping accelerate green transition, improving digitalization, and infrastructure projects.

Meloni has raised concerns by saying that she may want to redirect funds in line with her government’s priorities, without specifying how these may differ.

WILL THE COALITION HOLD?

A leaked audio tape of Berlusconi bragging about his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has raised questions about Italy’s allegiances.

Meloni sought to quash any concerns about Italy’s position on the war in Ukraine with a strong statement underlining support for Kyiv and emphasizing there was no room for dissent on that position, even at the cost of not forming a right-wing government.

Still, the 86-year-old Berlusconi’s damaging braggadocio creates concern about the longevity of her government. The former premier has shown signs of chafing under Meloni’s leadership, calling her “arrogant” in notes photographed from the Senate balconies.

Many analysts believe Salvini, whose party was severely weakened in the last elections, will be the more difficult partner. He already brought down one government, led by former Premier Giuseppe Conte, in a ham-handed power grab that cost him his post as interior minister.

Salvini had lobbied for the interior ministry portfolio under Meloni, but on Friday she gave the job to a longtime ministry official, Matteo Piantedosi.

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

AP

Colorado River settlement center of new Navajo Nation push...

Associated Press

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

Navajo officials are celebrating the signing of legislation outlining a proposed Colorado River settlement that would ensure water rights.

1 day ago

Arizona doctors California abortions...

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

2 days ago

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

2 days ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

4 days ago

UoA student convicted of first-degree murder after killing professor...

Associated Press

Former Arizona grad student convicted of first-degree murder in 2022 shooting of professor

A former University of Arizona grad student was convicted of first-degree murder after fatally shooting a professor on campus two years ago.

4 days ago

Rudy Giuliani bankruptcy filing defamation lawsuit...

Associated Press

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona’s Kelli Ward plead not guilty in fake elector case

Giuliani appeared remotely for the arraignment that was held in a Phoenix courtroom. His trial will take place in October.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

EXPLAINER: Is Meloni a far-right firebrand or moderate?