Italy’s Meloni adopts moderate position - GulfToday

Italy’s Meloni adopts moderate position

Giorgia Meloni (AFP)

Giorgia Meloni (AFP)

Fears in European Union that Italy’s far right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni would create problems in the continent facing economic and political problems seem to have eased as many heave a sigh of relief that Meloni in her first 100 days in office has walked a moderate path. The fiery leader of Brothers of Italy, an avowedly neo-fascist party, won the national election last September on the basis of her no-holds-barred far-right rhetoric, showing impatience with EU and on such sensitive issues like immigration.

But it seems she has chosen to modulate and even modify her political militancy, and do business with EU and the member-states on a status-quo basis.

Political observers say that the first thing Meloni did after taking over as prime minister was to meet EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels, and the reason for Meloni’s deliberate strategy to play safe arose from Italy’s need for its share of EU’s recovery and resilience fund of 90 billion euros ($206 billion), even as Italy carries the burden of public debt of 150 per cent of the GDP, the third largest among industrialised countries after Japan and Greece.  

Daniele Albertazzi, professor of politics at the University of Surrey in Britain said, “It would have been unthinkable for Meloni to risk missing out on this money. Failure would have been a tragedy. She behaved in the only way she could.”

She would have to implement economic reforms formulated by her predecessor Mario Draghi, which were necessary conditions for Italy to claim the relief package from the European Union.

Observers have noted the fact that she did not indulge in the rhetoric which she used when in opposition, and that she has adopted a cautious stance on many of the issues she was vehemently opposed to. Sofia Ventura, political science professor at Bologna University in Italy said, “We have seen something of a metamorphosis. She has been more moderate with her comments than when she was in opposition and has clearly understood that she needed to change her profile to be a credible international leader.”

Perhaps it should not come as a surprise that Meloni has softened many of her political positions as her scepticism about the EU, and her desire to bring the presidential style of government in Italy.

Her party colleagues seem to suggest that she has not changed and that she has time enough – five years – to implement her far right agenda. Giovanni Donzelli, head of organisation in Meloni’s party, Brothers of Italy, said, “We are working on a programme spread out over five years without the anxiety of having to bring home instantaneous results.” It would mean that Meloni has not really changed her views, and that she is biding her time.

Meloni would of course face the dilemma. If moderation is necessary to deal with Italy’s allies in Europe, and to remain in power at home with the help of her coalition partners, Northern League and Forza Italia, then she would have to be flexible on her political positions as that of her party.

Her party’s popularity ratings have risen to 30 per cent from 26 per cent in September when she and her party won the elections. The increase in popularity ratings could either mean that people are happy with Meloni’s moderate position which she has adopted since coming to power, or it could be because her supporters believe that she will deliver in the long run the agenda of the party. But she would have to keep in mind the interests of Italy, which would require her to adopt soft positions.

Meloni will have a tough time navigating the minefield of policy on the one hand and belief on another.

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