The making and meaning of Giorgia Meloni

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Giorgia Meloni started out as the awkward outsider, a woman from humble Roman roots in an Italy whose politics have long been dominated by alpha men from the north – Silvio Berlusconi, Matteo Renzi, Beppe Grillo, Matteo Salvini. Now the post-fascist party she fronts - Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy, or FdI) – is widely expected to take the largest share of the vote in the 2022 general election. How did it get there, having scraped 4% in 2018?

Earlier this month, the New Statesman writer at large Jeremy Cliffe travelled to Italy to find out, starting with a Turin rally more heavily policed than any he had covered before. In this richly reported essay, he traces Meloni’s ideological journey, as well as that of the far-right in Italy, from the fascist war years to today’s political landscape – one that is described to him as “extreme political fickleness combined with institutional stability”. Is Meloni’s rise explained by Salvini’s fall, as one newspaper editor tells him, or is there more at play? What does this mean for the rest of Europe?

Written and read by Jeremy Cliffe.

This article originally appeared in the New Statesman’s 23 September 2022 issue. You can read the text version here.

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