Polls suggest that Fratelli d'Italia will become Italy's largest party
The result of the last Italian general election, in 2018, was extraordinary. Three things happened to turn the country’s politics upside down:
The governing centre-Left coalition lost hundreds of seats; the upstart Five Star Movement became the largest party; and Right-wing populist League became the biggest party in the centre-Right bloc (eclipsing Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia).
In fact, so much was going on that no one noticed that a much smaller Right-wing populist party, called Brothers of Italy (FdI), had scored a minor success by winning 4% of the vote.
We should have paid more attention. Because over the last three years, the Brothers — led by Giorgia Meloni — have slowly, but surely, gathered further support.
In recent polls, they’ve pulled into second place — not far behind the League. The latest poll shows them just 0.1% behind. If the trend holds, it’s almost certain that FdI will soon become Italy’s leading party.
Italy, SWG poll:
FdI-ECR: 21% (+1)
A-S&D: 4% (+1)
SI-LEFT: 3% (+1)
+/- vs. 9-14 Jun. '21
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) June 21, 2021
This matters, because the combined strength of the Brothers and the League (plus their Right-wing allies) would be enough to score a big victory at the next general election. And, furthermore, if the Brothers take first place then Giorgia Meloni, and not the League’s Matteo Salvini, would become Prime Minister.
Meloni is a less divisive figure than Salvini. However, her party has a more controversial history. Though better described these days as “national populist” and not neo-fascist, it is descended from the Italian Social Movement which was founded in 1946 by supporters of Benito Mussolini.
The populist surge of the 21st century has disrupted politics across the western world. However, the chaotic nature of the movements and personalities behind this voter revolt has allowed the established order to weather the storm.
Giorgia Meloni is a very different proposition. Disciplined and patient, she has carefully manoeuvred her way into her current position. She now stands on the brink of power. Whatever happens next, this time we should definitely pay attention.