World reacts to right-wing victory in Italy election

Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party, is set to become Italy’s first female prime minister after leading a right-wing alliance to victory at Sunday’s election.

Meloni’s party, which has fascist origins, is expected to form a coalition with other far-right groups, including League, led by former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, and Forza Italia, headed by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

As Meloni ran on a ticket of putting Italians first and staunch anti-immigration policies during her election campaign, many are worried about what her leadership could mean for Italians and its reverberations worldwide.

Salvini, Berlusconi and Meloni led their right-wing alliance to election victory [File: Alessandra Tarantino/AP Photo]

Here is how the world reacted to Meloni’s success:

US

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States looked forward to working with Italy’s new government but would encourage respect for human rights.

“We are eager to work with Italy’s government on our shared goals: supporting a free and independent Ukraine, respecting human rights and building a sustainable economic future,” Blinken wrote on Twitter.

“Italy is a vital ally, strong democracy and valued partner,” he said.

France

French President Emmanuel Macron said he respected the “democratic choice” of the Italian people.

“The Italian people have made their democratic and sovereign choice. We respect it,” Macron said in a statement from his office. “As countries that are neighbours and friends, we must continue to work together.”

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said France would monitor abortion and human rights in Italy following Meloni’s win.

Borne told BFM television: “We will be attentive, with the president of the European Commission, that these values of human rights, the respect of one another, notably the respect of abortion rights, are respected by all.”

However, she declined to comment directly on Italy’s decision to give the Brothers of Italy party a majority on Sunday.

“I am not going to comment on the democratic choice of the Italian people,” she said.

Meanwhile, France’s far-right party leaders, including Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, congratulated Meloni on the win.

Le Pen tweeted: “The Italian people have decided to take their destiny into their own hands by electing a patriotic and sovereigntist government. Congratulations to @GiorgiaMeloni and @matteosalvinimi for resisting the threats of an anti-democratic and arrogant European Union by obtaining this great victory!”

Germany

German politicians also expressed concern after Meloni’s victory.

Jurgen Hardt, a lawmaker and foreign policy expert for the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – currently in opposition – said he was troubled by the “openly post-fascist statements” of Meloni and the “hair-raising positions” of her fellow Brothers of Italy party members.

“Racism and the exclusion of minorities can no longer have a place in Europe,” Hardt told the DPA news agency.

“In Germany and Brussels, the new Italian government will be judged on its contribution to the future of Europe, compliance with the sanctions against Russia and progress in rebuilding the Italian economy,” Hardt said.

Hardt said Berlusconi, who is nearly 86, had acted as kingmaker in order to share power once more.

“One can only hope that at his advanced age he is able to see the implications of his decisions and keep this government on the right track,” he said.

Meanwhile, the far-right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), issued a statement celebrating Meloni’s win and called it “another victory of reason”.

“We, as Alternative for Germany, congratulate Giorgia Meloni on her election and wish her to be the first woman to head an Italian government,” it said.

“Despite all the undemocratic warnings from EU Commission President von der Leyen and other politicians, the Italians, like the Sweden Democrats before them, have opted for a change of policy,” the statement added.

“And that is their good democratic right. The electoral success of the Fratelli d’Italia is another victory of reason. Germany is pretty much alone in Europe with its left-green traffic light coalition.”

Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi has served as prime minister three times, a total of nine years in power since 1994 [Antonio Calanni/AP Photo]

Russia

The Kremlin said Moscow was open to developing “constructive” ties with Rome.

“We are ready to welcome any political forces that are able to go beyond the established mainstream, which is filled with hate for our country … and show willingness to be constructive in relations with our country,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, when asked about Meloni’s victory.

Hungary

Balazs Orban, political director to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, celebrated Meloni’s win and tweeted:

“Congratulations to Giorgia Meloni, Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi on the elections today! In these difficult times, we need more than ever friends who share a common vision and approach to Europe’s challenges.”

Poland

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki congratulated Meloni and hailed the Italian far right’s “great victory”.

Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party and the Brothers of Italy are both parts of the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group.

PiS member and former Prime Minister Beata Szydlo tweeted: “I’m glad that a party from the ECR group is assuming responsibility for yet another European nation.”

Other Polish governing politicians highlighted the overlap between the two parties, including their emphasis on Catholic family values.

“The EU right is growing stronger … We will defeat the communists, leftism and the LGBT lobby – everyone who is ruining our civilisation,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Janusz Kowalski said on Twitter.

Deputy Justice Minister Michal Wojcik said Meloni’s victory was a “defeat” for European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, calling her a “representative of anti-democratic forces in the EU”.

Spain

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares warned on Monday that populist movements always surge during difficult times but always end badly in response to the election results.

“These are uncertain times and at times like this, populist movements always grow, but it always ends in the same way – in catastrophe because they offer simple short-term answers to problems which are very complex,” he told reporters at a briefing.

However, Santiago Abascal, leader of Vox, Spain’s far-right conservative party, said on Twitter: “Giorgia Meloni has shown the way for a proud, free Europe of sovereign nations to be able to cooperate for the security and prosperity of all.”

Australia

Australian One Nation senator, Malcolm Roberts, took to Twitter to share a video of Meloni talking about protecting the family and said: “Crisp & accurate 2-minute video. The world is waking to the globalist predators as inhuman, anti-human scum.”

EU

The European Commission said it hoped for a constructive relationship with the next government in Italy, despite the Brothers of Italy being a Eurosceptic populist party.

The commission, the EU’s executive, by principle works “with the governments that emerge from the elections”, said EU spokesman Eric Mamer at a news briefing.

“This is no different in this case. Of course, we hope that we will have a constructive cooperation with the new Italian authorities,” he added.

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