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“Christian Mother” leads Italy’s right-wing extremists to the brink of power

#Christian #Mother #leads #Italys #rightwing #extremists #brink #power

As a youth activist, she praised Mussolini, but as leader of Italy’s far-right Brothers, Giorgia Meloni has sought to detoxify her country’s post-fascist movement — and pushed it to the brink of power.

Opinion polls have put Italy’s right-wing coalition on track to take office after September 25 elections, with Meloni’s party at the helm, making her a strong candidate for the country’s first female prime minister.

Of short stature and with straight blonde hair, the 45-year-old stands in sharp contrast to the men who typically dominate Italian politics, and both she and her party have a strong belief in their personal brand.

“I’m Giorgia, I’m a woman, I’m a mother, I’m Italian, I’m Christian,” she declared at a rally in Rome in 2019, while advertising posters were dominated by her smiling face.

The Brothers of Italy emerged from the country’s post-fascist movement, but Meloni has sought to distance himself from the past but has refused to fully renounce it.

In public speeches she is intense and combative when she rails against the European Union, mass immigration – she wants a naval blockade against boats coming from North Africa – as well as abortion and “LGBT” lobbies.

She is running as part of a coalition with Matteo Salvini’s Anti-Immigrant League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, but her party eclipses her in opinion polls.

– Mussolini made “mistakes” –

Meloni has benefited from being the only major party to stay out of outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government over the past 18 months, allowing it to claim it can offer voters a fresh start.

“Meloni generally represents a reference point for protest and discontent,” said Sofia Ventura, professor of political science at the University of Bologna.

Meloni co-founded Brothers of Italy in 2012, although they received just four percent of the vote in 2018, compared to current poll numbers of around 24 percent.

Her own political journey goes back much further.

She was a teenage activist in the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), founded after World War II by supporters of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Aged 19, while campaigning for the far-right National Alliance, she told French television that “Mussolini was a good politician because everything he did was for Italy”.

After being elected a National Alliance MP in 2006, she changed her tone, saying the dictator made “mistakes,” notably the racial laws, his authoritarianism, and entering World War II on Hitler’s side.

Two years later she was appointed youth minister in the government of Silvio Berlusconi, at 31 the youngest minister in post-war Italy.

– Fascism is history –

Her party takes its name from the first line of Italy’s national anthem, and its logo features the same flame used by MSI in the green, white, and red of the country’s flag.

She has rejected calls to change the logo, insisting the flame had “nothing to do with fascism” – blaming “the left” for the opposite.

“Italian right handed fascism to history for decades,” she said in a trilingual video message sent to foreign correspondents this month.

She insists there is “no place for nostalgic attitudes” in her party.

Furthermore, in a recent interview with British magazine The Spectator, she said: “If I were a fascist, I would say I am a fascist. Instead I never spoke of fascism because I am not a fascist.”

Born on January 15, 1977 in Rome, Meloni was raised by her mother in the working-class neighborhood of Garbatella after her father abandoned her.

Meloni herself has a daughter, born in 2006, with her partner, a television journalist, whom she did not marry.

She speaks English, Spanish and French and has good contacts with other European parties, in particular the Spanish Vox and the Polish Law and Justice party.

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#Christian #Mother #leads #Italys #rightwing #extremists #brink #power

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