Giorgia Meloni tries to sell moderation with 13 days to go before the elections in Italy in which she starts as the great favorite. She has done so throughout the electoral campaign, where at rallies she has tried to moderate, not always successfully, the tone of her speeches. And he did it again this Monday, in the first and only face to face with the leader of the Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, when already in the last exchanges of the debate, the moderator reminded him of the speech at the Vox rally in Malaga during the campaign for the Andalusian elections in June. Meloni replied: “It’s a tone that sometimes comes out, especially when I’m tired.” She then verbalized what has been the strategy of the entire campaign, in which she is making, she said, “a great effort” of moderation.
And so he tried to demonstrate it in the 90 minutes that the debate lasted, like a football game, without any outstanding action or great moments of emotion. Although while Letta always looked at the camera and did not carry papers, she often fidgeted in her chair, looking at her hands and the pages she had on the table. She moved more when the director of the Corriere della Sera, the newspaper that organized the face-to-face meeting, asked about his party’s slogan, “God, Country and Family.” “I am a talker, and I don’t think a slogan mazzinian -he said referring to Giuseppe Mazzini, one of the fathers of the unification of Italy- has to collide with modernity”.
But there were no outbursts and the debate took place in a climate of fair play. Although Letta wanted to make it clear that her always moderate and dialoguing attitude, of which she is often “accused”, is not equivalent to being “soft”. “Italy is at a crossroads. As it was in the United Kingdom with Brexit”, she affirmed, after repeating on more than one occasion that the election, on September 25, will be between two country models, which “respect each other but are profoundly different”. Letta insisted on civil rights and a Europe of solidarity against Meloni’s opposition to adoption by homosexual couples or single people. And she often mentioned Víctor Orbán, whose closeness to Meloni is known. “I have good relations with Orbán but I want to remind you that until yesterday he was in the European People’s Party, not in the European Conservatives family, which I have the honor to chair,” she replied.
Ukraine and the divisions with Salvini
And although he dodged a direct question about the reluctance of his coalition partners – Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s League – about his leadership, he indirectly sent messages to Salvini, trying to distance himself from him, at a key moment in the bell. He did so when he said that the possibility of increased spending to respond to the energy emergency was a last ratiocalling it a mistake to think of spending “30,000 or 40,000 million more”, exactly the figure mentioned by the leader of the League, who replied almost live to say that “it is something necessary”.
The other message was the position on Ukraine. “There is no doubt that things would stay that way,” she said, referring to Italy’s position with a future right-wing government. He also referred to the sanctions against Russia that, contrary to what Salvini defends, “are working” although they have to be accompanied, Meloni said, by a “compensation fund” for the countries that are most affected by the collateral effects of punishment to Moscow.
Meloni started with an advantage, reinforced by the polls that show their support. The latest ones, which were published on Friday, before the two-week ban on the dissemination of polls established by law, predict a comfortable victory for his party with 25 percent of the vote, while the Democratic Party would reach 22 percent. . Letta, who called for a “house by house and street by street” campaign, quoting the famous phrase from Enrico Berlinguer’s last speech, repeats that the game is not over and that the broad group of undecideds must be addressed.
There are 13 days left to find out if the strategy of one or the other will work. What they did answer in unison -and with smiles- was the question of whether there is a possibility of a government of national unity, if the elections did not produce a clear result. The answer was the same: a resounding “no”.