“One of two. Or you will surprise us all with a discontinuity with respect to your political identity as an intransigent nationalist and illiberal sovereigntist, which will be good for the country. Or you will be consistent with those ideas, words and slogans, and then you will be a disaster for the country.” The words of the deputy Riccardo Magi this Monday in the Italian Chamber of Deputies summarized the dilemma in which Italy finds itself with the premiere of Giorgia Meloni as the new president of the Government. A few minutes earlier, the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party delivered her investiture speech in a chamber where she can count on a large majority.
Giorgia Meloni is already the new Prime Minister of Italy
In a one-hour speech, the President of the Government – although she has asked to be called “the president” – touched several keys without going into much detail about specific measures in a context that she has defined as “very complicated”, “perhaps the more difficult since the second post-war [tras el final de la II Guerra Mundial] until today”. “Freedom” was one of the words that she repeated the most. “Freedom and democracy are the distinctive elements of our contemporary European civilization in which I have always recognized myself,” she said, later adding: “I have never felt sympathy or closeness to anti-democratic regimes. For any regime, fascism included”. A few minutes later Magi, elected with the +Europe party, reminded him of his own words from the recent past, such as, for example, the definition of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, as a “bulwark of values against the globalism of European elites” .
The institutional image with which Meloni made her debut in the Chamber of Deputies seemed far removed from that of the young militant of the youth section of the Italian Social Movement who, at 19, said that Mussolini had been “a good politician” and that there had been no others like him in the last 50 years.
Don’t sabotage Europe
Europe was one of the central passages in Meloni’s speech, aware, as he said, of the “curiosity and interest in the Government’s position.” “Italy will make her voice loud as she touches a great founding nation. Not to slow down or sabotage European integration, as I have heard in recent weeks, but to help guide it towards greater effectiveness in responding to crises”, he said. Always in the field of foreign policy and after the controversy over Silvio Berlusconi’s statements about Putin on the eve of his appointment as head of government, Meloni stated that “whoever believes it is possible to exchange the freedom of Ukraine with our peace of mind” is mistaken. and that “giving in to Putin’s blackmail on energy would not solve the problem, but would aggravate it, opening the door to more claims and blackmail.” “Italy will continue to be a reliable ally within the Atlantic Alliance, based on the support of the brave Ukrainian people who oppose the invasion of the Russian Federation.”
It also confirmed the government’s hard line on immigration policies. “If you do not want to talk about a naval bloc, I will say it like this: we want to recover the original proposal of the Sophia naval mission of the European Union, which in the third phase provided for, although it was never implemented, the blocking of ship departures from the north of Africa”.
On the domestic front, given the economic forecasts that predict an imminent recession, the part of the speech that Meloni dedicated to the economy provoked most of the criticism for the lack of specificity, beyond repeating one of the promises of the electoral campaign, the modification if not abrogation of the citizenship income, promoted by the 5 Star Movement. He also spoke of the intention, already expressed in the electoral campaign, not to go back on the idea of reforming the Italian institutional system in a presidential sense, “starting -he said- from the hypothesis of a semi-presidentialism on the French model”.
The new prime minister defined herself with the English term of underdog, the one who did not have it all with him and to affirm himself had to turn the forecasts around. “I want to keep doing it,” he added. “A center-right government will never limit existing freedoms for citizens and businesses. We will see to the test of the facts, also on civil rights and abortion, who was lying and who was telling the truth in the electoral campaign about what our real intentions were, ”he added. Shortly before, she had underlined how she felt the weight of the responsibility of being the first female head of government and had thanked whoever had allowed the ladder to be built to break that glass ceiling, naming a list of women of all political origins. In one of the harshest passages of the debate, in which the opposition underlined on several occasions the contradictions of Meloni’s speech with its recent past, the deputy of the Brothers of Italy, Fabio Rampelli, answered the criticism, saying that the right had a double glass ceiling has been broken, because Meloni “is a woman and a mother”. “The center-right has given Italy a female president of the Government and a mother, you have not. We have made the cultural revolution,” he said.
One of the most critical judgments came from the former Prime Minister and current leader of the 5-Star Movement, Giuseppe Conte, who on Twitter was even harsher than in his speech in the Chamber: “From President Meloni, more than an hour of empty rhetoric, seasoned with many demagogic slogans and the usual right-wing cultural references. Citizens, however, have not heard a single word about solutions to electricity bills and the energy crisis. Good thing they were ‘ready’”. At the end of the afternoon, the new Government of Meloni passed the vote of confidence, with 235 votes in favor and 154 against.