Meloni cheers on fans as Italy’s right eyes win historic win

Giorgia Meloni led her right-wing allies to a joint rally on Thursday ahead of her expected victory in the weekend’s elections in which the one-time Mussolini supporter hopes to become Italy’s first female prime minister.

Meloni’s post-fascist brothers of Italy are campaigning for Sunday’s vote in a coalition with Matteo Salvini’s far-right Liga and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

“We are ready! You’ll see on Sunday,” she told the packed crowd in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo, most of whom were waving Brothers of Italy flags.

The election is being closely watched in Brussels, where concerns have been raised about the prospect of a Eurosceptic, populist government at the helm of the eurozone’s third-largest economy.

“I vote for Meloni, she never cheated on me,” Giuli Ruggeri, a 53-year-old unemployed supporter, told AFP at the Rome rally.

The event signaled the start of a final push for Italy’s politicians ahead of a weekend campaign blackout.

Runaway inflation, a looming winter energy crisis and tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine have dominated election campaigns in Italy, which is only just recovering from the trauma of the coronavirus pandemic.

No longer pushing for an exit from the euro, Meloni vowed on Thursday to lead a “strong, serious and respected Italy on the international stage” amid the right-wing coalition’s program calling for a review of EU rules on public spending.

Meloni and Salvini both pursue a nationalist agenda and call for an end to mass migration while emphasizing traditional family values ​​and Italy’s “Judeo-Christian” past.

The Russian Embassy in Italy on Thursday tweeted four photos showing Putin with almost all of the party leaders running on Sunday — with the notable exception of Meloni.

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“Italy doesn’t want to be ruled by the left,” declared the billionaire former prime minister and media mogul, pledging to fight “fiscal oppression.”

The League leader has been somewhat overshadowed by Meloni, whose no-nonsense style and outsider status have pushed her party to the brink of power.

Her popularity skyrocketed after Meloni became the only main party leader not to join outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s national unity coalition in February 2021 – leaving her the only effective opposition.

Brothers of Italy was last at around 24 to 25 percent, ahead of the centre-left Democratic Party at 21 or 22 percent, followed by Five Star at 13 to 15 percent.

But with 40 percent of Italians saying they have yet to choose or won’t vote, experts warn there’s still room for excitement in a country known for unstable politics with nearly 70 governments since 1946.

Originally released as Meloni, supporters heat up as Italy’s right eyes claim historic victory