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Five key takeaways as Italy makes historic far-right shift

Here are the main takeaways early legislative elections in Italy which pitted the parties of Giorgia Meloni, Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi against a left-wing bloc dominated by the Democratic Party and the Five Star Movement.

1. Giorgia Meloni should be Italy’s first female Prime Minister

As the leader of the largest party (Brothers of Italy) of the winning right-wing coalition, Giorgia Meloni is set to become Italy’s first female prime minister.

In a highly patriarchal country whose main political figures are overwhelmingly male, Meloni’s victory represents a major break with the past.

In a pre-election interview with Euronewsshe said “it would be an honor for me to be the first to break this taboo in my country”.

She may have received some form of support from former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said electing women to office was a “step forward”.

But not everyone is convinced that Meloni will be good for women’s rights.

Centre-left MP Lia Quartapelle, for example, described her as a “symbolic” figure of a macho right and noted how the Brethren of Italy manifesto makes spare references to women and gender.

2. Italy will have its most right-wing government since World War II

If the exit polls are correct, the future Italian government will be made up of a coalition of the Brothers of Italy led by Meloni — a descendant of the Italian Social Movement, a neo-fascist party — as well as the League du Nord by Matteo Salvini, who has an anti-immigrant and populist platform, and the more moderate Go Italy by Silvio Berlusconi (Forza Italia), whose politics align more with liberal conservatism.

For most of the post-war period, Italy was dominated by the now defunct Christian Democracy, a conservative, pro-American party that combined more right and left factions. Following the “Bribesville” scandal of the early 1990s, the Italian party landscape changed dramatically and Berlusconi became an imposing political figure who presided over several right-wing governments.

While this isn’t the first time the far-right has been in government in post-war Italy — Meloni herself served as youth minister from 2008 to 2011 — it is the first time the extreme right will be at the helm, while the centre-right (in this case, Berlusconi and his party) will fall behind.

A short-lived populist government was also formed in 2018 with the Northern League, but it also associated itself with the Five Star Movement, which mixed right-wing and left-wing politics.

3. Voter turnout has been at historic lows

Italy has historically enjoyed high levels of political participation and a higher turnout than many of its European neighbours. In 1979, more than 90% of voters turned out to vote, and the numbers remained in the 80s throughout the 1990s.

However, in this election, only 64% of the eligible population who voted voted. The 2018 general election had also seen 73%, and voter turnout has been declining for more than a decade.

why is this the case? Voter disaffection and fatigue are on the rise, along with the volatile and ever-changing party landscape, and the fact that this election campaign started in August – violating the sacred summer vacation (summer holidays).

4. A poor performance for the centre-left

In the months leading up to the elections, the centre-left’s biggest force – the Democratic Party led by Enrico Letta – had well exceeded 20%, and was even head-to-head with the Brothers of Italy in the race to be the biggest party in the country.

But exit polls suggest he got 19%, potentially not even reaching the 20% mark.

The centre-left coalition is by far the right-wing bloc, and its prospects were hampered when a coalition attempt with the centrist Action party failed after five days.

The populist Five Star Movement, led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, is estimated to have received 13.5-17.5% of the vote, which may be slightly more than opinion polls had suggested, but which is a figure significantly lower than what he had obtained. in 2018 (32.7%). The party itself has also been hit by internal splits, after former leader Luigi di Maio jumped ship and joined the centre-left coalition, forming his own party, Civic Engagement.

5. Is this the return of Berlusconi?

Longtime former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may no longer be a significant stand-alone figure in the election – after all, his party is just a shell of what was once Europe’s biggest political force. Italy and saw some of its most dedicated members – like former minister Mara Carfagna – jump boat.

But Berlusconi’s support for the right-wing coalition is essential to secure him a majority of seats, and as such the controversial ex-prime minister could still wield significant influence.

euronews Gt

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