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Don’t be fooled, Meloni’s no moderate

Valeria Ferraro/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty

British columnists have recently given Giorgia Meloni something of a rebrand, says David Broder in The New Statesman. Sure, the Italian PM has previously spoken about “ethnic substitution”, they argue, but since taking office her policies have been “pretty mainstream”. This assessment is dangerously wrong. In recent weeks, Meloni’s domestic agenda has lurched rightwards, focusing on policies to avoid the supposed “extinction of Italian people”. She subscribes to the same “Great Replacement” theory as the American far right, warning of a “plan for ethnic replacement” supposedly organised by “speculators”, “communists” and George Soros, who she calls a “usurer”. It has more than a whiff of “the old spectre of ‘Judeo-Bolshevism’”.

Then there are Meloni’s radical plans to combat, as she sees it, “the wrong people populating Italy”. The PM is pushing through legislation to stop gay men and women from becoming parents via surrogacy – which one member of Meloni’s party labelled a “crime worse than paedophilia” – and to stop the children of same-sex couples being registered under both parents’ names. She has also launched a crackdown on migrant rescue NGOs and supported policies that deny free school meals and transport to the children of immigrants, even if they’ve lived in Italy all their lives. Yes, Meloni has fallen in line with the liberal West on global issues like the Ukraine war. But recasting her as “pretty mainstream” betrays a dangerous ignorance of the far-right turn currently underway in Italy.