Liberals in the media and left-wing activists wasted no time claiming that Italy’s presumptive prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, who would be the country’s first female prime minister, is a fascist. But how true is this claim?
A New York Times article on Meloni used some variation of the word “fascist” 28 times. CNN, Politico, The Guardian, and several other outlets piled on, warning readers that Meloni would bring the sort of dictatorship dreamed up by fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
Meloni’s party, the Brothers of Italy, is connected to the post World War II fascist movement in Italy, leading many to believe the country’s new prime minister will usher in, “the return of fascism in Italy,” as The Atlantic put it. Giorgio Almirante, a former chief of staff for Mussolini, founded The Italian Social Movement in 1946, drawing former fascist officials and sympathizers into its ranks. The Brothers of Italy is considered by some to be a “political descendant” of the Italian Social Movement. The Brothers of Italy party also uses the flame logo used by the Italian Social Movement which depicts the three colors of the Italian flag, a symbol some criticize for allegedly representing the “eternal flame” on Mussolini’s tomb.
As a teenage activist for the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement, Meloni told French television that, “Mussolini was a good politician, in that everything he did, he did for Italy,” according to The Times Of Israel. As the newly elected member of the National Alliance in 2006, Meloni walked back the comments she made as a 19-year-old, saying that the dictator made “mistakes,” and criticizing his racial policies and alliance with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
In recent years, Meloni has bluntly criticized fascism, saying it is “history” and that the Italian Right “unambiguously condemns the suppression of democracy and the ignominious anti-Jewish laws.” The Brothers of Italy party suspended a candidate who praised Hitler as a “great statesman” on social media with immediate effect in September, according to Reuters. (RELATED: THE NEW RIGHT? National Conservatives Are Looking To Remake The GOP)
Meloni has also criticized the European Union and and the effects of globalism on her country. “We did not fight against and defeat communism in order to replace it with a new internationalist regime, but to permit independent nation states once again to defend the freedom, identity and sovereignty of their peoples,” Meloni said at the National Conservatism Conference in Rome, Italy in 2020.
But Meloni has since moderated her position, saying she wants Italy to stay in the eurozone. Meloni has also remained a staunch critic of Putin’s aggression towards Ukraine and has vowed to continue providing military support to the European country in its fight against Russia, according to The Atlantic.
Meloni has also been accused of homophobia for opposing adoption by same-sex couples and saying that the ideal way for a child to be raised is by a mother and a father. But her view is not far off from current law in Italy, which only recognizes civil unions for same sex couples, and only allows married couples to adopt, The New York Times reported.
Meloni has also criticized abortion, saying women should be given other options, but it is unlikely her views on the matter will impact Italy’s women. Meloni maintains she has no plans to curb women’s ability to get an abortion, according to euronews.
Meloni’s candidacy represents a general shift to the right in European politics. Sweden voted in a right-wing coalition of parties this month, and right-wing candidate Marine LePen came remarkably close to becoming the president of France this past April.
Meloni’s anti-globalist sentiments and nationalist policies have earned her ample criticism from the Left. But is she really the fascist many claim she is? At least of late, a closer look at Meloni’s politics reveals that her track record is anything but neo-fascist.