Italy election victors target era of political stability

2 mins read
Snap election in Italy

By Keith Weir and Elisa Anzolin

ROME (Reuters) – The right-wing alliance that won Italy’s national election will usher in a rare era of political stability to tackle an array of problems besieging the euro zone’s third largest economy, one of its senior figures said on Monday.

Giorgia Meloni looks set to become Italy’s first woman prime minister at the head of its most right-wing government since World War Two after leading the conservative alliance to a triumph in Sunday’s election.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the League party that is one of the main allies of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, shrugged off a poor showing by his own party and forecast an end to Italy’s revolving-door governments.

“I expect that for at least five years we will press ahead without any changes, without any twists, prioritising the things we need to do,” Salvini told a news conference.

Near final results showed the rightist bloc, which also includes Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, should have a solid majority in both houses of parliament, potentially ending years of upheaval and fragile coalitions.

Graphic: Italian 2022 General Elections https://graphics.reuters.com/ITALY-ELECTION/lgvdwrmxzpo/elections.jpg

The result is the latest success for the right in Europe after a breakthrough for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats in an election this month and advances made by the National Rally in France in June.

“Italians have given us an important responsibility,” Meloni said in a social media post on Monday.

“It will now be our task not to disappoint them and do our utmost to restore dignity and pride to the nation,” she said, alongside a picture of her clutching the country’s flag.

Meloni, who has spoken out against what she calls “the LGBT lobby” and mass immigration, tries to play down her party’s post-fascist roots and portrays it as a mainstream group like Britain’s Conservatives.

She has pledged to back Western policy on Ukraine and not take risks with Italy’s fragile finances.

TOUGH INHERITANCE

Meloni and her allies face a daunting list of challenges, including soaring energy prices, war in Ukraine and a renewed economic slowdown.

Her coalition government, Italy’s 68th since 1946, is unlikely to be installed before the end of October and Prime Minister Mario Draghi remains at the head of a caretaker administration for now.

Despite the talk of stability, Meloni’s alliance is split on some highly sensitive issues that might be difficult to reconcile once in government.

Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, pushed Rome to the centre of EU policy-making during his 18-month stint in office, forging close ties with Paris and Berlin.

In Europe, the first to hail Meloni’s victory were hard-right opposition parties in Spain and France, and Poland and Hungary’s national conservative governments which both have strained relations with Brussels.

Salvini questions the West’s sanctions against Russia and both he and Berlusconi have often expressed their admiration for its leader, Vladimir Putin.

The allies also have differing views on how to deal with surging energy bills and have laid out a raft of promises, including tax cuts and pension reform, that Italy will struggle to afford.

With almost all results counted, the Brothers of Italy led with around 26% of the vote, up from just 4% in the last national election in 2018, supplanting the League as the driving force on the right.

The League took less than 9%, down from more than 17% four years ago, but despite the relatively low score, Salvini said he would stay on as party leader. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia scored around 8%.

Centre-left and centrist parties won more votes than the right but were penalised by an electoral system that rewards broad alliances. Enrico Letta, the head of the main opposition party, the Democratic Party, announced he would stand down as leader.

Despite its clear-cut result, the vote was not a ringing endorsement for the right bloc. Turnout was just 64% against 73% four years ago – a record low in a country that has historically had strong voter participation.

(Elisa Anzolin reported this story from Milan. Additional reporting by Crispian Balmer, Angelo Amante, Gavin Jones and Alvise Armellini in Rome; Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Crispian Balmer, Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson)

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