February 14, 2023 - 7:30am

The current political fortunes of Germany’s Olaf Scholz and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni could not be more different. This weekend, Scholz’s SPD endured its worst ever result in Berlin, securing a meagre 18% of the vote (in joint second place with its national coalition partner, the Greens).

Meanwhile in Italy, the Right continues to make advances across the country. Exit polls in the nation’s two most populous regions indicate that the Right-wing Lega Party’s regional president is expected to be re-elected in Lombardy. Thanks in large part to the success of Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia, the Right-wing coalition has strengthened its foothold here and expanded its reach further south. If the polls are correct, Lazio looks set to have its first Right-wing government in 10 years, with the insurgent centre-Right candidate smashing his nearest opponent by 20 percentage points. Overall, projections show that Fratelli d’Italia will have its best result ever in an Italian regional election.

Credit: EuropeElects

These results mark a clear stamp of approval for Fratelli D’Italia leader Giorgia Meloni. During her time in office, her personal approval rating has risen by nine points to 51%, commensurate with the rise in support for her Party too. 

Compare this to her EU partner. Olaf Scholz has spent nearly a year longer in office, but it is only in the last two months that his approval rating has plummeted by 20 points to 33%. Lingering fears about a recession, energy crisis and a long war in Ukraine have all contributed to a sense of disillusion with the German Chancellor and his Party, all of which crystallised in a surge in support for the rival CDU Party on Sunday. “A year is short when you have to deal with three simultaneous crises and a repeat election,” Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) said on the night of the election.

Credit: EuropeElects

As heads of coalition governments, both Meloni and Scholz have fought hard to maintain unity, particularly on Ukraine. Earlier this week, Meloni’s administration was forced to downplay comments made by Silvio Berlusconi in which he blamed Ukraine’s President for the invasion. But while Meloni’s coalition partners are more dovish on Russia, Scholz’s have proven to be much more hawkish, with the Greens frequently pushing Scholz to provide more military support to Ukraine. Against the backdrop of an increasingly war-weary public, it is perhaps no surprise that support for the Party has been steadily falling this year too.

Meloni may be frustrated with Italy’s diminished role around the EU negotiating table, but soon Scholz and Emmanuel Macron may have no choice but to welcome her back into the fold.

is UnHerd’s Newsroom editor.