Italians will vote on Sunday in what is being billed as a crucial election as Europe reels from repercussions of Russia’s war in Ukraine. For the first time in Italy since the end of World War II, the election could propel a far-right leader into the premiership.
Soaring energy costs and quickly climbing prices for staples like bread — the consequences of Russia’s invasion of breadbasket Ukraine — have pummeled many Italian families and businesses.
Against that bleak backdrop, Giorgia Meloni and her Brothers of Italy party — with neo-fascist roots and an agenda of God, homeland and Christian identity — appear to be the front-runners in Italy’s parliamentary election.
They could be a test case for whether hard-right sentiment is gaining more traction in the 27-nation European Union. Recently, a right-wing party in Sweden surged in popularity by capitalizing on peoples’ fears about crime.
Meloni’s main alliance partner is right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini, who blames crime on migrants. Salvini has long been a staunch ideological booster of right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland.
“Elections in the middle of a war, in the midst of an energy crisis and the dawn of what is likely to be an economic crisis … almost by definition are crucial elections,″ said Nathalie Tocci, director of Rome-based think tank the International Affairs Institute.