Giorgia Meloni: Mussolini-lite, and going viral
A group of left-wing opponents made a short film of a sample from one of her speeches. It was designed to discredit her "bigoted" opinions. Instead it has gone viral, and her popularity has soared
It is hard to imagine the world getting too excited about the Times article ‘Rising stars: twenty faces to look out for in 2020’. I have waded through it, dear Reader, so you don’t have to. It would appear that Times correspondents worldwide are invited to give their nominees and some look pretty parochial.
‘All could be household names by the end of the year’ gushes the Times. So you will be looking out for Yegor Zhukov, a Russian maker of You Tube videos. Li Ziqi will be on your lips this year: she sells Chinese pastries on You Tube. Look out for Shinjiro Koizumi, a Japanese politician whose father was also a Japanese politician, Florence Pugh, an actress and, oh dear, General Qaseem Soleimani of Iran. Obviously Mr. Trump does not read the Times.
But amongst these international misfits and non-entities we see the round, innocent eyes of Giorgia Meloni. Increasingly popular in Italy, Meloni was once a minister in Berlusconi’s government, but she soon tired of the centre-right and set out on her own. Her party is called Fratelli d’Italia, Brothers of Italy and it gained a little over 4% of the vote in the last election.
Brothers of Italy is a term well known to every Italian. It is from the National Anthem, The song of the Italians, ‘Brothers of Italy, Italy has awoken, with the helmet of Scipio on its head..’ Stirring stuff.
Now Fratelli d’Italia are riding high at around 10% of the vote with many on the right preferring Meloni to Matteo Salvini. Her style is exactly what you don’t expect from her youthful appearance (she is in fact 43 this month). Meloni harangues her audience with a strident, rousing voice ‘I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am a Christian’, her own particular brand of identity politics proclaiming her to be normal, unlike others.
Over and above her party’s dislike of immigrants, Giorgia does not like gays or transexuals and believes they are allotted too much space in public debate, meaning people no longer know who they are. Not her, though: ‘Sono Giorgia, sono una donna, sono una madre, sono Cristiana’.
A group of left-wing opponents has made a short film of a sample from one of her speeches, with Giorgia shrieking to an urging tecno-beat, waving her arms in the air as she reaffirms her belief system: ‘Sono Giorgia….’ You can see it on MEM & J - Io Sono Giorgia (Giorgia Meloni Remix)
It was meant as a biting satire, an exposure to all the world of this politician’s intolerance. But it has had the exact opposite effect.
The Meloni sample has become an internet sensation, an anthem to her followers. It has provided her with an immense amount of free publicity for her views: that Italians must not forget their identity, that they, like her, their leader, are women, mothers, Christians.
Salvini will engineer an election when he can and on present form will win. But he knows he can only win with Giorgia’s 10%. It puts her in a strong position.
And if Salvini-Meloni won, what job could she be given? Education? She is in favour of cancelling the separation of Church and State and teaching Christianity in the classroom. Interior Minister? She is against same sex marriage and single parent families. Perhaps she should be Foreign Minister or Minister for a Europe which banned Rocco Buttiglione from being a commissioner over similar, traditional views.
For the present she is at ten percent. But could the whole of Italy go Meloni? For some she is the nearest thing the country has had to Mussolini since 1945. For a few people that is a very good thing: there is a conservative streak in italy as in many other countries, a hankering for the past. But my guess is that the Italians are just too nice to support her en masse.
Definitely one to watch, though, and whatever you think of her, at least she is less dangerous than the late Qaseem Soleimani.
Tim Hedges, The Commentator's Italy Correspondent, had a career in corporate finance before moving to Rome where he works as a freelancewriter, novelist, and farmer. You can read more of his articles about Italy here
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