Depending on your political sense, the election victory of the post-fascists in Italy in autumn 2022 was a first – or a precedent. Never since the Second World War has a party as far to the right as the Fratelli d’Italia come to power in a Western European country. Her boss, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, therefore sees herself in an avant-garde role, as a trailblazer. At least their rise trivializes everything that comes next, according to the rule: Now that this has already happened, the primal shock of those concerned is a bit dampened.
The Fratelli d’Italia emerged, after a series of half-sheddings, from the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano, which itself was full of nostalgics who adored Benito Mussolini. These are not modern populists, their party is not a pop-up, not a wind vane: the ideological roots run deep. In order not to offend the orthodoxy in the party, Meloni did not want to do without the tricolor flame in the party emblem, which stands for the Duce’s living spirit. However, it owes its record-breaking rise to power by tackling the same issues as other right-wing parties in Europe: immigration, Islam, the EU.
Since Meloni has been in power, she has been pragmatic, at least when it comes to foreign policy matters. She stands firmly by the EU and NATO because Italy cannot afford to remain on the sidelines. And she smiles winningly through the summit meetings. She was just in Berlin for the signing of what she called a “historic agreement” with Germany. If you think back to how she used to talk about Germany and Europe, it’s quite remarkable.
Giorgia Meloni did not want to comment on Geert Wilders’ election victory in the Netherlands, because at the European level she belongs to the other camp on the right, that of her government partner Matteo Salvini from the Lega and Marine Le Pen with the Rassemblement National.
Jean-Marie Le Pen was known as an anti-Semite
It is quite possible that Meloni’s sudden career will also help the Frenchwoman, perhaps the Italian will even indirectly contribute to her “de-devilization”. dediabolization. This is the name given to the strategy of the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder and long-time leader of the predecessor party, the Front National, with which she wants to make herself and her family socially acceptable as part of the republic. The father, now 95, is considered a notorious anti-Semite, he was convicted for this several times and was therefore not eligible for election. And Marine Le Pen? Recently marched at the big Paris rally against anti-Semitism, a much-debated, symbolic turning point.
The next presidential elections will take place in France in 2027, and Marine Le Pen will probably run for a fourth time. The survey institutes see them ahead. But how meaningful are polls three and a half years before an election when it is not even clear who your opponents will be? Three and a half years, she hopes, are enough for complete demonization.
Le Pen was so impressed by Wilders’ “spectacular success” that she wanted to get a piece of it in an interview on France Inter radio station: “Geert Wilders and his movement are our allies,” she said proudly. When she was asked whether he said shocking things, she replied that everyone has their own style. “When I look for allies in Europe, I’m not looking for clones. I’m not Geert Wilders, he’s not Marine Le Pen.” And she also believes that Wilders has come a long way, that he has normalized himself, and that he owes his success to this normalization. So Le Pen argued that Wilders had followed her own example to some extent and that was why she had won. Anyone who heard a prophecy in it, their personal hope for 2027, probably didn’t mishear it.