When the extreme right took power in Ladispoli, a seaside town near Rome, in 2017 and ended 20 years of left-wing government, one of their priorities was naming a square after Giorgio Almirante, a minister in Benito Mussolini’s dictatorship and founder of the neo-fascist Italian social movement (MSI).
Protests by anti-fascist groups failed to thwart the plan, and in 2019 the nameplate was unveiled during a ceremony that included a blessing from the church’s priest in the same square. Almirante has been described as “the father of Italian legal socialism and a point of reference for many Italians” by Mayor Alessandro Grando, who won a second term in June.
Now many voters in Ladispoli and across Italy are looking to it Giorgia Meloni, founder of Brothers of Italya descendant of MSI, as a point of reference as the country prepares for it early elections on 09/25
“Italians want radical, landmark change and we need it to get through a democratic process,” said Carlo Morelli, a former left-wing voter now loyal to the Brothers of Rome Italy. “I think Meloni is the right person to bring about this change.”
Meloni, 45, could be close to fulfilling her dream of becoming Italy’s first woman prime minister. Her political party has emerged as the most popular in Italy from just under 4% of the vote in the 2018 general election, climbing further in polls released on Friday Collapse of Mario Draghi’s government.
Brothers of Italy lead an alliance that is inclusive Matteo Salvinithe right-wing extremist league and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which is predicted to win by a clear majority.
The astonishing fall of the Draghi government has taken many by surprise, also because Italy has never had an election campaign in the summer. Italians flock to the beaches in droves and politics is the last thing on their mind. But when elections are coming up, it’s difficult to think of anything else.
Morelli was among the beachgoers enjoying the sunset on the Ladispoli seafront this weekend. “The left made many mistakes and had no connection with the people,” he claimed. The right-wing parties meanwhile have “concrete and comprehensive ideas”. He said of Meloni: “She is very charismatic, sincere and has no illusions.”
Also on the beach, Maddalena Melappioni said she had no intention of voting. “They promise so much but never deliver,” she said. Nevertheless, she admires Meloni. “She has courage and her words are good, but keeping them up is another matter.”
Born in Garbatella, a working-class area of Rome, Meloni was president of the youth wing of the National Alliance, a party that emerged from MSI. She served as youth minister in Berlusconi’s government from 2008 to 2011 before founding Brothers of Italy.
President of the European Conservative and Reform Party since September 2020, she has sought to reshape the Brethren of Italy as a conservative champion of patriotism.
“It helped move the party forward,” said Francesco Giubilei, author of the book Giorgio Meloni: The Conservative Revolution. “It also helped that the Brothers of Italy were the only party that stayed out of Draghi’s government.”
Meloni has uncompromising views on mass immigration, has called abortion a “defeat” and is opposed to same-sex marriage and parenting. In June, she traveled to Marbella to make a controversial speech at a rally she was hosting The Spanish right-wing counterpart Vox. “Yes to the natural family! But these LGBT lobbies!” She screamed.
Giulio Faillaci, sitting with a group of friends on Ladispoli beach, winces as he recalls the content of the speech, a clip of which has been widely shared online. “It was terrible and now we’re in a terrible situation,” he said. A staunch leftist, he plans to vote for the centre-left Democratic Party, which trails just behind the Brethren of Italy in the polls but has yet to form an alliance. “It’s disgusting. We face so many problems and they got rid of Draghi, who is one of the most credible people in Europe.”
A lively political debate ensues with his friends. “No one votes for a common goal anymore – they only think about their own interests,” said Francesco Rossi. Barbara Clarioni, a former Populist voter Five Star Movement, the party that engineered the overthrow of the Draghi government, said “there is no real investment in the things that matter, like research, education and health.” She is unsure if she will vote and if so, for whom. “In a way I prefer the ignorant to the educated who tell lies.”