(NAPLES, Italy) Giorgia Meloni’s is set to become Italy’s first ever female prime minister. Meloni’s Brothers of Italy won a startling victory on Sunday. Exit polls show a wide lead for her party and Meloni has already claimed victory.
“Italians chose us, and we will not betray it, as we never have,” she said in a public appearance in the early hours of Monday morning.
While some consider the party to be “far right” due to their ties to neo-Fascist groups formed in Italy after World War II, Meloni herself shrugs off the label as a smear and seems keen to break with some aspects of the party’s past.
Meloni’s victory suggests she was successful in her effort to convince voters that she offered a new face of conservatism for Italy. She has sought to present a different world view than that of other conservative parties in Italy notably Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.
When Meloni spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida earlier this year, she cast herself as a conservative populist, and her electoral campaign this summer placed great emphasis on her identity as both a Christian and a mother.
Meloni traveled closer to home this Friday to wrap up her campaign, choosing to do so in Naples one of the most densely populated cities in Europe and the most densely populated in Italy.
Meloni concludes her campaign in Naples – a densely populated southern Italian city.
“She has some support in certain areas of the south to be sure. Finishing her campaign here was symbolic and a way to differentiate her from other candidates”, said Francesco Senese of the provincial bureau of Naples for the Democratic Party in an interview with Zenger News.
Senese said that Meloni “needs to build a stronger relationship with the south”.
Exit polls showed a lower turnout than Italy’s previous elections. A number of factors played into low poll numbers including apathy and other conditions including fierce rainstorms over much of southern Italy.
“I didn’t vote, I had work as well,” said Angelo De Filipi who stood outside the famed Naples Pizzeria Starita waiting for a table in the light rain, “but, me and my friends, we don’t want Giorgia”.
Meloni holds a number of anti-immigrant and eurocritical views, yet, some of her views have changed over time. A former admirer of Russian President Vladmir Putin who praised his 2018 election victory she has now become a critic of Russia’s war in Ukraine and pledged continued support for Ukraine.
“I haven’t been following it closely” says Ayaz Muhammad, an immigrant from Pakistan who manned a small shop not far from Garabaldi Station in Naples. He said he was aware of Meloni’s visit to the city, but, seemed little concerned with her hawkish views on immigration.
“All people have a good side, sometimes you have to wait to see it”, said Muhammad as rain poured steadily on the election night and some soft Punjabi music emanated from his phone.
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