Meloni, new face of European power - GulfToday

Meloni, new face of European power

Giorgia Meloni (AFP)

Giorgia Meloni attends a meeting. File/AFP

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni seemed to have scored brownie points in the visual-dominated media focus on the G7 summit that Italy had hosted last week. This is not the first time that a woman politician in Europe was holding the reins of power. Former German Chancellor Angel Markel did it without much ado for 16 years.  It is slightly different with Meloni. She brings in Italian vivacity and more than a wee bit of feminine style and charm to the job. Meloni drew much attention when she greeted the G7 leaders with folded hands, the Indian style ‘namaste’, though warm shake-hands and that rare awkward hug with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added spice to the spectacle.

And of course, there was that death stare at French President Emmanuel Macron, with who she clashed on the mention of abortion rights in the summit communique, accusing him of playing to his domestic gallery. Then there was the touching scene when Meloni gently brought back US President Joe Biden as he seemed to walk away a bit from the other leaders at a para-gliders event which was also a photo opportunity for the group of leaders.  And she was eloquent and warm when she expressed appreciation of Pope Francis attending the summit and addressing it.

These were all visuals that gave Meloni plenty of opportunity to project the image of a firm and caring political leader.  And she seemed to have grabbed the opportunity with both her hands. Observers have also noted the fact that Meloni is also a strong leader after the European Parliament elections where her Brothers of Italy had scored a convincing victory, which is not surprising the elections gave thumbs up to right-wing and more crucially to far-right parties, and Meloni leads a right-wing party. The parties of the Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had faced a bruising defeat in the elections from they far-right parties in their countries, the National Rally of Marine Le Pen in France and the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany. 

The two leaders from North America, Biden and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau face elections at home, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida with low popularity ratings faces a leadership election within his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).  Britain’s Rishi Sunak has called for parliamentary election on July 4, which pollsters predict will be a hug defeat for Sunak’s Conservatives. That leaves Meloni standing strong and alone among the leaders of the advanced economies and political democracies.  She can call the shots as it were in continental politics.

It is expected that she will support European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with her conservative European People’s Party (EPP) retaining an upper hand in the European Parliament. Her position on the troubling international questions have become mellowed ever since she became prime minister in late 2022. From being an anti-immigration politician, she now speaks of giving economic aid to African countries so that people do not have to feel their homelands, she has said that the two-state solution is the only way out to the Israel-Palestine problem, and she said that Israel has walked into the trap set by Hamas in its attack on Israeli civilians on October 7 last and that Israel is getting isolated in the world.

She was firm that access to abortion need not be mentioned in the G7 communique because it was already stated in the G7 communique of Hiroshima last year. She is one of the European leaders who is politically stable both at home and in the European Parliament, and she is keen to get something for Italy in the European powerstakes.


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