The World Today for October 26, 2023


‘The Champagne Fascist’


Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, an icon of the far-right in Europe, recently announced that she would separate from her longtime partner Andrea Giambruno, a television journalist.

The split came two days after recordings of Giambruno’s “foul remarks and suggestive comments towards a female colleague” surfaced in the Italian media, wrote the Guardian. It was not the first time that Giambruno had embarrassed himself in this manner.

The development was classic Meloni. She is a powerful woman – a feminist icon, one might argue, sitting astride one of the most important countries in Europe – standing up for herself in her private life against a boorish, toxic male, political commentators said.

Ironically, however, she took this feminist stance as the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy, a political party descended from the supporters of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Meloni and the party took power in late October last year on a campaign platform that emphasized “traditional families” over “gender ideologies.”

“Europe’s liberals trembled” when Meloni and the Brothers of Italy took power, quipped the Economist. She has governed, however, the British magazine concluded, as a pragmatist rather than a disruptor.

After a year in office, Meloni appears less radical than her critics portrayed her, Deutsche Welle wrote. She has toned down her criticism of the European Union – one of her election campaign slogans was “raging against Europe” – and continued the economic policies of her predecessor, Mario Draghi, a former technocratic prime minister and ex-president of the European Central Bank. She has also backed NATO’s support for Ukraine, the Associated Press added.

To be sure, Meloni is far right. She has pushed for conservative social policies like limiting parenthood to biological parents and banning Italians, including heterosexuals, from pursuing surrogate maternity abroad.

She has also opposed the migrations of North Africans, Middle Easterners, and others who have been entering the EU through Italy, and promised naval blockades. The number of migrants coming to Italy by boat has almost doubled to 140,000 compared with last year, however.

The prime minister has also not made much progress in solving some of Italy’s historic problems, like low productivity, cumbersome bureaucracies, low salaries, low investment in research and development, and other issues, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation wrote.

Still, Meloni is a savvy political operator who, at least so far, appears to be controlling the restive coalition of far-right parties that she needs to remain in office, argued Paris-based Washington Post columnist Lee Hockstader.

She doesn’t need Giambruno.

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