Giorgia Meloni, Brothers of Italy Party, Wins the Italian Election

Leader of Italian "Fratelli d'Italia" (Brothers of Italy) party, Giorgia Meloni. | Image by Andreas Solaro, AFP, Getty Images

A landslide victory for Giorgia Meloni and the Brothers of Italy party proved the Italian pollster’s predictions correct.

Meloni, 45, the leader of Italy’s largest coalition, will be the first female prime minister in the country, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

“It’s a victory I want to dedicate to everyone who is no longer with us and wanted this night,” said Meloni following the election. “Starting tomorrow we have to show our value … Italians chose us, and we will not betray it, as we never have,” she said.

Her meteoric rise in Italy comes at a crucial time when businesses and households struggle to pay rising gas and electricity bills caused by European energy policies and the war in Ukraine, Reuters reports.

Meloni addressed the energy problem in Milan on Saturday in a speech and referred to Friday’s meetings between European energy ministers. Italy wants a European price restriction on gas to keep prices down, while Germany opposes the notion. However, Berlin promised a €200 billion rescue package to assist German residents and businesses with rising energy costs, measures that other European countries cannot afford, according to Politico.

“Probably many of those reading today’s newspapers will have understood that when we said that in Europe, you start from national interests to arrive at a shared solution,” Meloni said, reports Politico. “We didn’t say it because we were populist but because we were lucid.”

She said Italy’s attitude must return to defending its national interests and called for a change in the coming months. change in the coming months, according to. She said that views do not imply a negative attitude toward Europe but rather a positive attitude toward Italy.

“We must start from the national interests,” she said.

Given Meloni’s criticism of “Brussels bureaucrats” and her ties to other populist leaders, Fox News reports, European leaders were very interested in what kind of government the Eurozone’s third-largest economy might get.

Meloni told voters and interviewers that she wanted to change the European Union rather than abandon it, Time reports.

She has assured Europeans and Americans that she fully supports NATO and Ukraine in their fight against Russia’s invasion. She has assured Brussels that she wants to improve, not rip up, financial agreements with the E.U.

These assurances will, at least initially, protect her government. With the second-highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the E.U., Italy desperately needs access to the 200 billion euros in COVID Recovery funds promised by the European Commission in exchange for fiscal and other reforms.

Italy also relies on the European Central Bank to keep buying its debt. A sputtering economy, high inflation, and an impending energy crisis exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine and an E.U. bid to wean Europe off Russian energy will only make that funding more necessary, according to Time.

Meloni recently defended Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban after the European Commission suggested suspending billions of euros in funding to Hungary because of some leaders’ worries about democratic backsliding and possible mismanagement of E.U. money.

Italy’s history is filled with political instability, and the next prime minister will lead the country’s 68th government since 1946, facing a slew of challenges, including rising energy prices and growing economic headwinds, Reuters reports.

The electoral law in Italy favors groups that can form pre-ballot pacts, giving them a disproportionate number of seats in comparison to their vote total.         

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