Polls open as Italians vote in general election, Giorgia Meloni expected to be 1st female Prime Minister

Her ultra-conservative party, whose origins lie in post-war fascism, controls just two of Italy's 20 regions, winning just 4.5 per cent of the vote in the 2018 elections

AgenciesUpdated: Monday, September 26, 2022, 09:38 AM IST
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Polls open as Italians vote in general election, Giorgia Meloni expected to be 1st female Prime Minister | AP

Rome: Italy on Sunday started voting for the general election that could yield the nation's first female Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni.

The far-right Brothers of Italy party - led by Giorgia Meloni - is poised to make significant gains after the collapse of two governments since the last election, if her party wins, Meloni could also become Italy's first female Prime Minister, reported CNN.

Her ultra-conservative party, whose origins lie in post-war fascism, controls just two of Italy's 20 regions, winning just 4.5 per cent of the vote in the 2018 elections.

Since the collapse of former Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's coalition earlier in this year - which triggered the snap election - the Brothers of Italy have only surged in popularity, with recent polling suggesting nearly a quarter of the electorate backs her, reported CNN.

Meloni, a 45-year-old mother from Rome who has campaigned under the slogan "God, country and family," leads a party whose agenda is rooted in Euroskepticism, anti-immigration policies, and one that has also proposed weakening LGBTQ and abortion rights.

Her astronomical rise in popularity is a reflection of Italy's longstanding rejection of mainstream politics, seen most recently with the country's support of anti-establishment parties such as the Five Star Movement and Matteo Salvini's League.

Meloni's partners in Italy's centre-right political alliance, Salvini and Forza Italia's Silvio Berlusconi, are partly responsible for her popularity.

In 2008, as prime minister, Berlusconi named her as his sports minister, making her the youngest minister to hold that position, reported CNN.

Meloni was Salvini's junior partner in the 2018 election centre-right alliance. But this time, she's in charge and has hinted that, if elected, she may not give Salvini a ministerial portfolio - which would strip him of the power to bring her government down potentially.

Trailing behind in recent polling is the centre-left coalition, led by the left-wing Democratic Party and centrist parties +Europe.

The parties formed an alliance with another centrist party Azione, whose alliance following Draghi's resignation to counter a lurch to the right, but it broke down shortly after it was formed, further opening the door to Meloni, reported CNN.

Italians are voting on a number of hot button issues, including Italy's cost-of-living crisis, a 209-billion-euro package from the European Covid-19 recovery fund and the country's support for Ukraine.

Meloni differs from Berlusconi and Salvini on a number of issues, including Ukraine, and has no connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin, unlike her partners, who have said they would like to review sanctions against Russia because of their impact on the Italian economy. Meloni has instead been steadfast in her support for defending Ukraine, reported CNN.

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