Giorgia Meloni started out as an awkward outsider, a working-class southerner in a country whose politics have long been dominated by northern alpha men – Silvio Berlusconi, Matteo Renzi, Beppe Grillo, Matteo Salvini. Now, the post-fascist party she leads — Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy, or FdI) — is expected to easily win the largest share of the vote in the 2022 general election. How did it come to this, after have scratched 4% in 2018?
Earlier this month, the new statesman At-large writer Jeremy Cliffe traveled to Italy to find out, starting with a rally in Turin more heavily guarded than anything he’d covered before. In this richly reported essay, he traces the ideological journey of Meloni, as well as that of the extreme right in Italy, from the years of fascist war to the political landscape of today – one which is described to him as “extreme political fickleness combined with institutional stability”. . Is Meloni’s rise explained by Salvini’s fall, as an editor tells him, or is there more at stake? What does this mean for the rest of Europe?
Written and read by Jeremy Cliffe.
This article originally appeared in the September 23, 2022 issue of The New Statesman. You can read the text version here.
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