As votes were counted in Italy's globally watched elections Sunday night, it was obvious that the top vote-getter was going to be the conservative Brothers of Italy and that its charismatic leader, Giorgia Meloni, will soon become the first female prime minister of Europe's fourth-largest economy.
With exit polls showing the Brothers and its two partner parties on the right — the League, headed by former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, and former Prime Minister Sylvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia (Let's Go Italy) Party — getting roughly 41% to 45% of the vote nationwide, all signs point to the Italian right winning an historic majority of seats in both Houses of Parliament.
Within a week, President Sergio Matterella is expected to ask Meloni, who is 45 and a high school graduate, to form a new government. After more than a decade of unelected technocrats as heads of government, a "Prime Minister Meloni" is likely to oversee changes in Italy's relationships with the European Union and perhaps the U.S.
In addition, international eyes will be on Meloni and how she deals with Russia amid its war against Ukraine. Both of her coalition partners have histories with Vladimir Putin, although Salvini, who is likely to be named foreign minister, recently told Newsmax, "Everybody in the past — and I mean everybody — has collaborated with Putin and Russia, but the war has changed this.”
Salvini emphasized to us that his party “has supported every measure [of lame-duck Prime Minister Mario Draghi's] ... for invaded Ukraine, both in the Italian and European Parliaments, including sanctions on Russia. We will continue to defend Ukraine and work for peace."
Earlier this month, Meloni herself during a business conference at Lake Como voiced strong support for keeping economic pressure on Russia and warned that "[i]f tomorrow our country breaks with its allies and turns toward the other side, the sanctions will remain anyway. But we will have lost credibility."
In terms of relationships with Washington, D.C., one of the worst-kept secrets in Rome is that Meloni would rather be dealing with Donald Trump as president than Joe Biden. Likely coalition partner Salvini has been dubbed in the press "the Italian Donald Trump," and Meloni herself is closer to American conservative activists than she is to the American president.
"I know Meloni well; and in recent years, we have tried to do cultural and political work to make her party closer to a conservative party and less a social right party," Francesco Giubilei, a 30-year-old Italian conservative philosopher and author of the critically acclaimed "The History of European Conservative Thought," told Newsmax. "The real question is about economic issues. There are the problems of inflation, energy and public debt; these are the issues on which it is necessary to understand whether a right-wing government will be able to work well."
Giubilei added his hope that a Meloni government "can work in a direction of tax-cutting economic policies, but the scenario is complicated. The new government can represent a hope for Italian and European conservatives, but it is important to maintain Atlantic relations and a fair view of economics."
Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, has known Meloni's likely coalition partner Salvini for three years and describes his economic viewpoint as "very Reaganite."
Like Norquist, Salvini is a fan of the flat tax and told Newsmax he wants to extend the limit on the 15 percent flat tax from 2 million workers who earn up to 65,000 euros per year to 100,000 per year.
"We want to extend it [the 15% flat tax] to retired and employed workers, starting with low incomes," he told us, "and with a limit up to 70,000 euros in cases of families with two revenues or two pensions per family. For Italians, the family will always be the heart that makes our country live."
The Financial Times' Rome correspondent, Amy Kazmin, characterized Meloni as "a charismatic anti-globalization rabble-rouser, lashing out at the international financial markets, [and] the EU's 'anti-democratic drift.'"
Nigel Farage, father of the British Brexit referendum that took his country out of the EU, told Newsmax that Meloni's triumph is "yet one more crisis for Brussels [home of the European Parliament]. It is an increasingly disunited union."
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó predicted to Newsmax last month that a Meloni triumph "would be the first time there was a [right-of-center] government in a G-7 country, [and] it could lead to a turnaround in relations with the G-7 and parties who put national interest high."
In the recent campaign, however, Meloni toned down her previous anti-EU invective and promised to continued Draghi's implementation of a $200 billion-plus economic reform program.
What the government of a "Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni" will look like and what and how she will sculpt her policy agenda are unclear at this moment. But it seems a very good bet that she will be, to use an Italian saying, "unico nel suo genere [one of a kind]."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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