By Jim Hayes
The woman who once publicly declared herself a great fan of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini is to become the new Prime Minister of Italy. Giorgia Meloni heads a political party called the Brothers of Italy. Don’t be misled by media portrayal, especially form the Murdoch stable, as something other than fascist.
There is good reason to use the term.
Brothers of Italy emerged out of an earlier party, the National Alliance (1995–2009) and Italian Social Movement (1945–1995), which was the successor of Benito Mussolini’s banned Republican Fascist Party (1943–1945). Mussolini’s family descendants, including his granddaughter Rachele Mussolini are active in Brothers of Italy.
This is not all. The party remains wedded to the fascist ideology. Despite an attempt to present a makeover and claims by the current leader that it has moved on from its legacy, there is still a firm belief in the rise of corporatism, that is, bringing in the discipline of the workplace into the political system. The relationship between leaders and subjects is like the relationship between employer and employees, a dictatorship. This is wrapped up in an appeal to national chauvinism and intolerance towards those seen not to fit. Hence the party’s tilt against immigrants, anti-feminism and LGBTQ rights, and a hatred of what it sees as the political left.
Brothers of Italy adds big tax cuts for the rich. They obviously want endorsement from this quarter. And they have got it. This explains the spectacle of much of the big media doing everything it can to whitewash the fascism, often calling Meloni’s party post-fascist and even centrist. They pretend it has moved on from its roots. By doing this, they continue the tradition set by their predecessors, who said much the same about Hitler and Mussolini.
The big question is how could the Brotherhood become the senior partner in the new Italian government? It won just short of 26 percent of the vote. This is hardly majority support. The pretence that they are other than fascist helped to legitimise them and provide the cover for other parties to join in a coalition that lifted the result to the 44 percent mark. This was enough to become the government. Without this appeasement there would be no Brotherhood led government and Giorgia Meloni would not have become the next Prime Minister.
Still there is no getting around that over half of electors voted against this coalition.
Add to this that this election recorded the lowest ever turn out of voters. Thirty-six percent didn’t cast a vote. This made a huge difference and testified to the electorate’s alienation form the political process. This is Italy, where the turnout is usually high, and is evidence of a growing instability that is going to be carried on to the next government.
Nevertheless, winning almost 26 percent of the vote, dramatically up from single digit numbers, is significant and merits close attention. This does not mean there has been a conscious surge towards fascism by Italians. It means there is a great deal of anger and sense of betrayal by political leaders. The rise in the cost of living, one of the worst in Europe, together with the splintering of he once dominant political parties and the return to short-lived unstable governments, has fed a sentiment favouring outsiders.
The political left has been unable to get past factional squabbles and present any real direction. Every party that already had members of parliament lost. All together 230 members of parliament are out except for a new independence party of the Aosta Valley just calling itself Aosta Valley gaining 1 seat and the new Us Moderates, which joined the Brotherhood led coalition, winning 3 seats.
It was the route of the discredited Mateo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia saw a big defection of their support bases to the Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood will not have an easy time of it in government. This is not the end of the story.