Mon, 26 Sep 2022 10:01 AM IST
THE COALITION led by far-right leader Giorgia Meloni who won a clear majority in Sunday’s election is set to become Italy's first female Prime Minister at the head of the most right-wing government since World War II.
Meloni will take over from Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, who pushed Rome to the centre of EU policy-making during his 18-month stint in office, forging close ties with Paris and Berlin.
Provisional results showed the rightist bloc should have a substantial majority in both houses of parliament, potentially giving Italy a rare chance of political stability after years of upheaval and fragile coalitions.
However, Meloni and her allies face a daunting list of challenges, including soaring energy prices, the war in Ukraine and a renewed slowdown in the euro zone's third-largest economy.
"We must remember that we are not at the end-point, we are at the starting point. It is from tomorrow that we must prove our worth," the 45-year-old Meloni told cheering supporters of her nationalist Brothers of Italy party early Monday morning. Meloni plays down her party's post-fascist roots and portrays it as a mainstream group like Britain's Conservatives.
In her victory speech, Meloni struck a conciliatory tone. "If we are called on to govern this nation we will do it for all the Italians, with the aim of uniting the people and focusing on what unites us rather than what divides us," she said. "This is a time for being responsible."
Projections based on well over half the votes counted put the Brothers of Italy on almost 26 per cent, up from just 4 per cent in the last national election in 2018, as voters opted for a largely untried figure to sort out the nation's many problems.
By contrast, her main ally suffered a disastrous night, with Matteo Salvini's League picking up around 9 per cent of the vote, down from more than 17 per cent four years ago, and being overtaken by Meloni in all its traditional fiefdoms in the north.
The other major conservative party, Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, also scored around 8 per cent, leaving the Brothers of Italy the dominant partner. Although Meloni's alliance is forecast to hold comfortable majorities in the upper and lower houses, its members have divergent positions on several issues which might be challenging to reconcile.
Despite its clearcut victory, the vote was not a ringing endorsement for the conservative alliance. Turnout was just 64 per cent against 74 per cent four years ago -- a record low in a country that has historically had strong voter participation.
(With Reuters Inputs)