Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni won big in Italian elections on Sunday, the first projections suggested, putting her eurosceptic populists on course to take power at the heart of Europe.
Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, has never held office but looks set to form Italy’s most far-right government since the fall of dictator Benito Mussolini during World War II.
Projections published by the Rai public broadcaster and Quorum/YouTrend both put Brothers of Italy on top, at between 24 and 26 percent of the vote, with Meloni favourite to become her country’s first female prime minister.
The result must still be confirmed but risks fresh trouble for the European Union, just weeks after the far-right outperformed in elections in Sweden.
Meloni, who campaigned on a motto of “God, country and family”, has abandoned her calls for one of Europe’s biggest economies to leave the eurozone, but says Rome must assert its interests more in Brussels.
Her allies, Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, lagged behind her. But the coalition was forecast to win around 43 percent, enough to secure a majority in both houses of parliament.
Brothers of Italy and the League “look to get, together, the highest percentage of votes ever registered by (far) right parties in the history of Western Europe since 1945”, Italian electoral studies centre CISE said.
The centre-left Democratic Party, the coalition’s main rivals, later conceded defeat, with vice-president Debora Serracchiani saying it was a “sad evening for the country”.
– ‘Proud, free Europe’ –
Congratulations came in quickly from Meloni’s nationalist allies around Europe, from Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to Spain’s far-right party Vox.
“Meloni has shown the way for a proud, free Europe of sovereign nations,” Vox leader Santiago Abascal tweeted.