Meloni fires up supporters as Italy’s right eyes historic win

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Giorgia Meloni led her right-wing allies in staging a joint rally Thursday ahead of their expected victory in weekend elections, in which the one-time Mussolini supporter hopes to become Italy’s first female prime minister.

Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy is campaigning for Sunday’s vote in a coalition with Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

“We are ready! You will see on Sunday,” she declared to the packed crowd in Piazza del Popolo in Rome, most of them brandishing Brothers of Italy flags.

The elections are being closely watched in Brussels, where the prospect of a eurosceptic, populist government heading the eurozone’s third largest economy has sparked concerns.

“I’m voting for Meloni, she’s never betrayed me,” Giuli Ruggeri, a 53-year-old unemployed supporter, told AFP at the rally in Rome.

The event signalled the start of a final sprint for Italy’s politicians before a weekend campaign blackout.

Runaway inflation, a looming winter energy crisis and tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine have dominated the election campaign in Italy, which has only just recovered from the trauma of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meloni no longer urges an exit from the euro but vowed Thursday to lead an Italy “strong, serious and respected on the international stage”, while the right-wing coalition’s programme calls for a review of EU rules on public spending.

Meloni and Salvini both pursue a nationalist agenda and demand an end to mass migration, while emphasising traditional family values and Italy’s “Judeo-Christian” past.

The Russian embassy in Italy tweeted four photos Thursday showing Putin with almost all the party leaders running on Sunday — with the notable exception of Meloni.

– Undecided –

“Italy does not want to be governed by the left,” the billionaire former premier and media mogul declared, pledging to fight “fiscal oppression”.

The League leader has been somewhat eclipsed by Meloni, whose straight-talking style and outsider status have propelled her party to the brink of power.

Its popularity soared after Meloni became the only main party leader not to join outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s national unity coalition in February 2021 — leaving her the only effective opposition.

Brothers of Italy was last polling at around 24-25 percent, ahead of the centre-left Democratic Party on 21 or 22 percent, followed by Five Star on 13-15 percent.

But with 40 percent of Italians saying they have yet to decide or will not vote, experts warn there is still room for some upset in a country famous for its unstable politics, with almost 70 governments since 1946.

Originally published as Meloni fires up supporters as Italy’s right eyes historic win


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