By Cristina Cabrejas
Rome, Sep 20 (EFE).- Favorite to win the upcoming elections and become Italy’s first ever female prime minister, the far-right candidate Giorgia Meloni insists that “no-one” in the country thinks that a victory for her party poses a threat to democracy, as claimed by her rivals.
Five days out from the vote, and in a brief pause in a campaign trail that has taken her up and down the country, the Brothers of Italy (Fdi) leader also said in an interview with Efe that her party was not anti-European Union.
EFE: Italy is facing huge challenges. If you win the election, what is the first thing you will do?
MELONI: The top priority is to support families and businesses in this awful period of rising prices and energy (costs). In Italy, too many companies have reduced or stopped production and it is likely they will close if the government does not intervene with drastic measures.
Many families risk not being able to pay their bills. A European price cap on gas and the decoupling of gas and electricity are immediately necessary. This last measure can also be adopted immediately on a national level.
Secondly, we want to relaunch the economy by lowering taxes on employment, simplifying bureaucracy, building strategic infrastructure and relaunching an industrial policy based on the principle of Made in Italy.
We also want to restore security and stop uncontrolled immigration – with the left in government, illegal arrivals to our coasts have reached unbelievable numbers.
EFE: Why must Italians vote for the Brothers of Italy?
MELONI: On September 25, Italians have a great opportunity to end the long tenure of the left, which has been in government almost uninterruptedly without ever winning elections. A vote for the Brothers of Italy, however, will not be a protest vote, but rather one for strong change. Italians know they can trust us because we are coherent.
We’ve been in the opposition for a long time, but we’ve never stopped making proposals and offering support for useful measures from different governments. Those who choose us know exactly what they’re getting. They can like it, or not, but there are no hidden surprises.
EFE: Are you ready to govern?
MELONI: Brothers of Italy is the party of conservative Italians. We believe in personal freedom and the centrality of the family, in the Italian, European and Western cultural identity, in private initiative and social solidarity. Our party leadership is competent and prepared. We feel ready to govern, if the Italians want it.
EFE: What do you think of those who say your victory and that of the center-right would be a danger to democracy.
MELONI: It’s paradoxical. For years in Italy we have had governments run by unelected prime ministers, often with (parliamentary) majorities distinct to those that arose in elections. In the pandemic, we saw unprecedented restrictions on freedom. However, only now are we talking about the threat to democracy, because in the end Italians will vote and maybe they will give a big majority to the center-right led by the Brothers of Italy.
No-one in Italy believes it, not even the left-wing which uses it as a weapon of desperation. We are a strong democracy, and those that sound the alarms about the future of Italy are not doing damage to Giorgia Meloni but rather Italy itself. The truth is the only thing in danger is the left-wing’s system of power, as in Italy they always govern without winning elections.
In the end, we will be a right-wing government, we already govern in 15 regions and hundreds of councils… What are we talking about?
EFE: You have harshly criticized the European Union, is there an anti-EU wing in your party? What would you tell those in Europe who fear the arrival of the Brothers of Italy in government in Italy?
MELONI: My party does not have an anti-European wing, we only have one line, which is that of European conservatives. The pandemic before and the war now has shown us what hasn’t worked in the construction of the EU in recent decades.
For too many years, Brussels has extended its powers in many aspects of our daily lives, forgetting about foreign policy and a collective defense, of assuring energy autonomy. I would like a Europe that does fewer things, but does them better, with less centralism (…) less bureaucracy and more politics. We are not at all against Europe, but rather for a more efficient Europe, which knows how to be a true added value for its citizens.