The far-right politician who is poised to become Italy’s first female prime minister next week has blasted what she calls “LGBT lobbies,” wants a naval blockade against migrants, and is backed by a party that recently picked a fight with a cartoon pig.
Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party is tipped to win general elections on Sept. 25, leading a conservative alliance that will likely form the most right-wing government in the country since the World War II.
And the party has been pulling out all its radical stops to lure conservatives to the polls, including attacking Peppa Pig earlier this month, political observers say.
The party said it has demanded that Rai, Italy’s national broadcaster, boycott the popular children’s series for engaging in what it calls “gender indoctrination” after a recent episode showed two lesbian polar bears acting as co-parents.
The hardline message is consistent with Meloni’s campaign sound bites.
“Yes to the natural family, no to LGBT lobbies!” said Meloni, 45, in July. “Yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology!”
In 2019, her rallying cry of “I am Giorgia. I’m a woman, I’m a mother, I’m Italian, I’m Christian” was derided by critics and turned into an electronic-music remix, blasted at Italian night spots. But today that ultra-nationalist message is resonating in the polls. Meloni has taken her party from 4 percent in 2018 to more than 25 percent on the eve of elections.
In terms of foreign policy, Meloni has backed right-wing Hungarian leader Viktor Orban in his latest dispute with Europe. Last week, the European parliament voted 433 to 123 to denounce the “existence of a clear risk of a serious breach” by Hungary of Europe’s core values.
According to Meloni, Orban’s isolation in Europe might only serve to bring him closer to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“The intelligent choice would be to bring European nations closer together rather than push them apart,” she told Rai radio. “We cannot give allies to our adversaries.”
The statement earned her the immediate enmity of her political opponents, with Giuseppe Conte, leader of the left-wing 5-Star Movement, saying Brothers of Italy is “unfit to govern Italy.”
But at least one political observer said that some of Meloni’s more outrageous pronouncements are electoral tactics meant to drawn in conservative voters who are long disillusioned with the country’s politicians.
“I think there are a lot of things she [has said] during the electoral campaign that she knows already she will not do once she is in office,” said Stefano Vaccara, founder and editor of La Voce di Italia, a daily digital newspaper. “Because Italy is a former fascist country, people are nervous around the world that she puts Italy first. But the reality is that, in the world today, most countries put themselves first. It’s not so radical. On important issues such as supporting NATO, she has been clear: She supports the alliance and will not change anything with respect to Ukraine.”
In January, Meloni told Rai that Italy has “always defended and supported the Ukrainian cause.”
“Italy cannot risk being the weak link in the Western alliance,” she said. “[The West] needs to know they can count on us,” she said. “I would not tolerate any ambiguity on this point.”
Tall and blonde, Meloni was born in Rome and has been a member of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies since 2006. She served as Minster of Youth under the government of media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi between 2008 and 2011. A former journalist, she calls herself a center-right conservative and has strong ties to the country’s anti-abortion lobby, according to reports.
She shares a daughter with partner Andrea Giambruno, a broadcast journalist and leftist who has advocated for the legalization of drugs, according to Italian media reports.
A skilled politician, Meloni remained in opposition to Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government unlike her coalition partners Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini. The move cemented her “outsider” status, Vaccara told The Post, and was instrumental to her meteoric rise.
“She was so smart,” Vaccara told The Post. “Voters looking for change are not likely to vote for the person who is in the government. They want change, and they will look for someone who is not in the government. It’s a great strategy.”
Part of that change: For the first time in its history, Italy will likely have a woman leading the country.
“If she really wins this election, she will become Italy’s first woman premier, and this would be an historic moment for Italy,” Vaccara said “It is the Italian left that now has to ask itself why it did not happen before.”