Giorgia Meloni will be the first woman to lead Italy. She's been labelled a "danger to Europe".

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When a country appoints a female prime minister in a world still frustratingly dominated by male leaders, it's often reason to celebrate. 

In Australia, we've only had one female PM in our history - Julia Gillard - who held office from 2010 to 2013. Unfortunately, it's still novel to have a woman in the highest position of power, which is why it's such a big deal Italy is very likely to have their first female leader in Giorgia Meloni, after her party won Sunday's election. 

But of course, after that initial little fist pump for womankind, the reality sets in: Who is this leader? Can we trust her? Is she going to do good things for Italy, Europe and the world?

This week, Meloni's Brothers of Italy party won the snap Italian election triggered by the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Image: Getty/Antonio Masiello. 


That's where the celebrations for many have ended. 

Meloni is what you would call a 'far-right' leader, and her party, Brothers Of Italy, has been linked quite strongly to fascism, with some commentators describing her as "fascism-adjacent".

Meloni herself has dismissed that label as "laughable," but many are warning that she will form Italy's most right-wing government since WWII. 

The Guardian went so far as to call her a "danger to Europe" and its democratic balance.

Here's everything to know about her, and what she stands for. 

The origins of Giorgia Meloni's politics.

In 2008, a 31-year-old Meloni became Italy's youngest ever minister - appointed to the Youth and Sport portfolio by Silvio Berlusconi. 

She has led the Brothers of Italy since 2014, a party whose origins can be linked back to dictator Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party. 

Mussolini's government didn't just dismantle democracy and build a police state, in the 1930s he passed anti-Semitic laws that discriminated against Jewish people. His takeover of Italy become an inspiration and example for Hitler and Nazi Germany. 


As Piero Ignazi, a professor emeritus at the University of Bologna told France24, "Meloni has been an activist in post-fascist politics since her youth. The party’s identity is, for the most part, linked to post-fascist traditions. But its platform mixes this tradition with some mainstream conservative ideas and neoliberal elements such as free enterprise."

In preparation for her own election campaign, Meloni sent out an internal memo to party groups instructing them to stop making extreme statements, refrain from making references to fascism, and to no longer do the Roman salute (a gesture that parallels the Nazi salute), reports DW.

But as reported by The Spectator, Meloni is adamant that "when I am something, I declare it. I never hide. If I were fascist, I would say that I am fascist. Instead, I have never spoken of fascism because I am not fascist." 

That comment aside, there's no denying her beliefs, values, and aspirations lie in the very far-right territory, with many comparing her to America's Donald Trump. There are also fears that her appointment will be dangerous for the whole of Europe, not just Italy. As reported by DW, she has called the European Union an "incompetent monster," promising that should she lead the "fun" will be "over."

"The danger arises for Europe because Italy has always been a laboratory: it has foreshadowed the crises of other countries. Italy had Mussolini before Hitler and the leftwing extremist Red Brigades before Action Directe appeared in France and the Red Army Faction followed suit in Germany," Roberto Saviano wrote for The Guardian


Meloni during her campaign election in September 2022. Image: Getty/Vincenzo Nuzzolese/SOPA Images/LightRocket. 

It's been a quick rise in popularity for the party. In 2018, Brothers of Italy only attracted just over four per cent of the vote. In 2022, they took 26 per cent of the national vote. 


Meloni's party is expected to have a majority in both the upper and lower house of Italy's Parliament. But while the party has claimed victory in Italy's election and Meloni appears certain to become prime minister, President Sergio Mattarella must nominate her - and that is unlikely to happen before late October. 

Anti-LGBT, anti-surrogacy and anti-immigration. 

Ultraconservative values, anti-immigration and nationalism are the keywords Rosa Balfour, director of Carnegie Europe, a think tank in Brussels, told BBC News on Monday when asked about Meloni.

In regards to immigration, Meloni has spoken of a left-wing government plot to "finance the invasion to replace Italians with immigrants." It's language used by the "great replacement," a conspiracy theory that accuses global elites of importing nonwhite migrants to majority white countries.

She has compared immigration to Italy as a "planned, willed invasion" telling supporters in 2017, "It’s called ethnic substitution, and we won’t allow it."

Her party states it is against marriage equality, gay parents adopting children, and surrogate motherhood and Meloni regularly dog whistles the Mussolini-era slogan "God, homeland, family" in her speeches. 

In 2019 she famously shouted at a rally in Rome, "They want to call us parent 1, parent 2, gender LGBT, citizen X, with code numbers. But we are not code numbers… and we’ll defend our identity. I am Giorgia. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am Italian, I am Christian. You will not take that away from me!"


This year, she went so far as to urge the removal of an episode of Peppa Pig from broadcast, because it featured a bear with two mothers. 

On Twitter she condemned surrogacy by writing, "[a] rented uterus is a universal crime," calling it a "third millennium form of slavery, which humiliates women's bodies and turns children into a commodity".

In June, she told supporters, "Yes to natural families, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology, yes to the culture of life, no to the abyss of death."

There is also a strong concern that Meloni's stance will impact women's access to abortion, although she has in recent weeks repeatedly denied plans to roll back legislation on both abortion and LGBT rights, despite her opposition. 

Currently, abortion is legal in Italy through the first 90 days of pregnancy, with exceptions after that point for fetal anomalies and risks to the mother’s life. Access to legal abortions is limited, however, due to widespread opposition from Italian doctors 

Meloni has also dropped her former admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and backed NATO's support for Ukraine - something her two political allies, the League and Forza Italia, have been more ambivalent about.

She has also shared her support for the plight of women in Iran on Instagram, writing, "All my condolences to the brave women in Iran and around the world fighting to defend their rights and freedom".


Giorgia Meloni's family life.

From a working-class Roman background, Meloni traces many of her family values back to having been brought up in a single parent home. Her father walked out when she was only a year old, and she was raised by her mother who was a writer of romance novels.

She believes every child has the right to have a mother and a father for "stability", saying, "I lived [in] a family condition that [made] me see this."

Commentators believe she was able to win over so many ordinary Italians in part thanks to tales of her humble childhood, "down-to-earth image" and, according to The Standard, fierce protection of things like family values.

In terms of her own family life, Meloni has a six-year-old daughter, Ginevra, with her partner Andrea Giambruno, a journalist who works for Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset TV channel. They met when she appeared as a guest on a programme he was working on. 


Giambruno and Meloni are not married, and Meloni has fought off accusations of hypocrisy as she promotes traditional Christian family values.

Meloni responded to the criticism in her 2021 biography, writing, "Saying that if you are not married you cannot defend the natural family based on marriage is a bit like saying that if you are young, you cannot care about the problems of the elderly."

Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera reports she will turn down the chance to live in the official prime minister's residence, with Giambruno telling the publication, "Do you think we’d raise a six-year-old child in a Versailles-like palazzo? We’ve already got a house."

Instead, the family will stay in their home in Mostacciano, Rome.

Feature image: Pasquale Gargano/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty/Mamamia.

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