Far-right Meloni set to become Italy’s first female PM

(Update 2: adds details, reaction by Enrico Letta)

Rome, Sep 26 (EFE).- Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni looks set to become Italy’s first female prime minister after the coalition formed by her Brothers of Italy (FdI) party, League and Forza Italia (FI) appears to have won an absolute majority in the general elections on Sunday, according to projections.

The 45-year-old is set to form the country’s most right-wing government since World War II.

“If we are called to govern the nation we will do it for everyone, to unite a people by exalting what unites rather than what divides,” said Meloni, who must be now invited by President Sergio Mattarella to form a government.

The alliance between Meloni’s FdI, anti-migrant Matteo Salvini’s League and the conservative Silvio Berlusconi’s FI looks to have secured about 43 percent of the votes, which would give it an absolute majority in both the Chamber of Deputies (lower house) and the Senate.

It is very close to securing two-thirds of the seats in parliament, which would allow it to change the constitution without the need for consensus.

“Italy has chosen us and we will not betray it as we have never betrayed it,” Meloni said in a measured speech, adding that “from tomorrow we must prove our worth.”

Fdl owes its meteoric rise to emerge as the most voted-for party – with about 24.6 percent compared to 4.3 percent in the last election – to Meloni, who posed the only opposition to the previous government of Mario Draghi.

The League looks to have secured 8.5 percent of the votes and Forza Italia 8 percent, the worst results in their history, meaning that Salvini will have to play second fiddle to Meloni in government after his party fell far short of the 17 percent it won in the last election.

The progressive coalition, headed by Democratic Party (DP), is projected to win 26.14 percent of the votes. The party itself is expected to secure 18.7 percent, matching its worst-ever showing in the 2018 polls, according to projections.

“The Democratic Party is the second political force and the first of the opposition and has a strong responsibility,” the party’s spokesperson in the Chamber of Deputies, Debora Serracchiani, said in the first official comment on the result.

DP leader Enrico Letta unsuccessfully tried to form a broad alliance to stop the far right’s rise and the election results show that if the DP, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centrists had allied, they could have achieved it, since the electoral law benefits large coalitions.

“The Italians have made a clear choice, they have chosen the right and there will be a right-wing government. It is a sad day for Italy, for Europe and we have hard days ahead. We have fought in every possible way to avoid this, for our values and for an idea of Italy and our future,” Letta said, adding that his party would be a “tough and uncompromising” opposition that would not let Italy leave the “heart of Europe and the European Union”.

Letta announced he would step down as head of the party after the election defeat and would not stand for leadership at the next party congress, scheduled to take place in March.

The other big winner of the night was Giuseppe Conte, the former prime minister who became leader of the M5S and managed to take it to the third most voted-for party in the country, with 16.5 percent of the votes, beating polls, when it seemed doomed to failure due to internal clashes.

The centrist parties, Action, of former minister Carlo Calenda, who failed to win a seat in the Senate for which he was running, and Italia Viva, of former prime minister Matteo Renzi, former leader of the PD, got 7.3 percent of the votes.

Voter turnout was the lowest in history at 63.9 percent, down nearly 10 percent from 2018.

The drop was notable in the south although Conte and the M5S have obtained their best results there, with more than 40 percent of the votes from Naples, due to their proposal to maintain some social measures, such as citizens’ income for the most vulnerable. EFE


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