Italy election sees Eurosceptics racing ahead in polls as bloc officials concerned

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Italy is set to elect a Eurosceptic, nationalist party, as well as its first female prime minister, in its upcoming general election on September 25. According to recent polls, a coalition led by the nationalist Brothers of Italy party, together with the League party and Forza Italia, is likely to secure the election. This makes Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party, the likely next prime minister of the country.

Her party has seen a massive increase in their share of the vote from four percent in 2018, to around 25 percent as the next election approaches. Ms Meloni is known for emotive speeches in which she slams European bureaucracy and illegal migrants.

She has also criticised gay rights lobbies.

The Brothers of Italy party has faced criticism for having its roots in far-right politics, and maintains the fascist-era slogan “Dio, Patria, Famiglia” (God, Homeland, Family). Its party logo shares imagery with that of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), a neo-fascist party formed in 1946 by supporters of Hitler-allied Mussolini’s regime and former high-ranking members of his fascist party.

Ms Meloni herself has said of Mussolini, in a recently resurfaced video from 1996: “Mussolini was a good politician. There have been no other politicians like him in the last 50 years.”

She has maintained a strong stance in favour of both NATO and Ukraine. But while she claims to be in support of the European Union and the Euro, the EU reportedly remains wary of where she will take Italy.

Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s vice president, said: “I fear the social and moral agenda of the right wing”, regarding the relationship between Ms Meloni’s party and EU values.

Ms Meloni has called for a naval blockade to block out migrants, and described the EU as “the project of ethnic replacement of Europe’s citizens desired by the great capitals and international speculators.”

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Describing the EU’s pro-migration policies as an “ethnic replacement” echoes the language of the “great replacement theory”, a white nationalist and widely-debunked theory that claims migration will eliminate or minimise the population of white people over time.

Italian journalist Paolo Berizzi, of La Repubblica, argued that the Brothers of Italy party’s foundation in 2012 was intertwined with fascism.

He wrote: “Meloni became the leader of her party in a period in which fascism in Italy was almost normalised and getting popular among young people. Statuettes of Mussolini and calendars of the Duce are on sale in kiosks and shops. The fascist salute […] has become an almost folkloric gesture.”

She has rejected the comparison, however, saying: “They’ll accuse me of being a Fascist my whole life. But I don’t care because in any case the Italians don’t believe anymore in this garbage.”

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The stage for the Brothers of Italy to storm the polls was set by the collapse of former Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government. Mr Draghi resigned after support for his government was pulled by the Five Star Movement (M5S), following tensions over how to handle the environment and energy crisis.

This left the centre-left parties of Italy divided, having tried to form a broad alliance. Italy’s electoral system favours groups that are able to form broad coalitions between parties.

A coalition between the Brothers of Italy, along with Matteo Salvini’s far-right Lega Party and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, is estimated to secure around 45 percent of the vote in the upcoming election.

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