One hundred years after Mussolini’s March on Rome in October 1922 laid the basis for his assumption of power, it looks ominously like his political descendants will be sworn in to lead Italy’s next government, its 70th since the war. The snap election on September 25th, brought about by the fall of Mario Draghi’s 17-month term, appears likely to bring to power a coalition of right-wing parties led by Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy, inheritors of the mantle of the post-war fascist MSI. It would be the most right-wing government in the history of the Italian republic
The prospect of Italy being run by a far-right politician is causing concern around Europe. EU capitals view with alarm what would represent a serious shift in the political balance of forces. A strengthening of the nationalist/populist right allied to Hungary’s Victor Orban would threaten gridlock on the union’s ability to take hard decisions on the economy, asylum seekers and the war. And signal the likely demise of efforts to reform Italy’s dysfunctional political system.
Those fears are compounded by credible reports that Moscow may have had a hand in pushing the withdrawal of the three right-wing coalition allies who brought down Draghi. He had been a notably strong opponent of the Russian invasion and among the first EU leaders to advocate that Ukraine should be granted candidate membership status.
Polls suggest the three parties , the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, the right-wing League, and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, will comfortably win the general election in alliance with Meloni. Although to their right, and unconvincingly eschewing the “fascist” tag, she has distanced herself from some of their more inflammatory rhetoric, promising to obey rules for accessing EU funds and to keep arming Ukraine.
But the collapse only days after it was formed of the opposing centre-left alliance, led by the Democratic Party, over the latter’s willingness to align with hard left and green parties, makes Meloni’s task all the easier.