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Giorgia Meloni, leader of Italian far-right party Brothers of Italy, gestures during a campaign rally in Turin.

Nicolò Campo/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

How far to the right is Italy’s soon-to-be prime minister?

Until recently, Giorgia Meloni was on the fringes of Italian politics. Now the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy Party is likely to become the country’s first female prime minister when Italians head to the polls on Sept. 25.

A self-styled anti-globalist, Meloni has for the most part embraced her far-right reputation within an Italian electorate that relishes anti-establishment candidates. But in an age when the term ‘far-right’ has become a catchall, what does Meloni really stand for and what will her election mean for Italy’s politics and economy?

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From left to right, Lega leader Matteo Salvini, Brothers leader Giorgia Meloni, and former Italian PM and Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi.

REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

How will the far right run Italy?

On Sept. 25, Italians head to the polls to vote in a snap parliamentary election triggered by the collapse of PM Mario Draghi's fragile coalition government in late July. Political instability and short-lived governments are nothing new in Italy, which has churned through 18 of them in the past 34 years. Now, though, an alliance of far-right parties is widely favored to win power for the first time since the end of World War II in a country with bitter memories of fascist rule. What will that government look like, and what can we expect from it? We asked Eurasia Group analyst Federico Santi.

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Former US President Donald Trump

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

What We’re Watching: Mar-a-Lago  "under siege," US pitches Africa, Italy’s left falters, Greek spy scandal

Trump claims FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago

Former US President Donald Trump said Monday that the Feds were searching his sprawling residence in Palm Beach, Florida. In a statement, Trump complained that his swanky Mar-a-Lago estate is "currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents." If his claim is true, the raid would be a big escalation in efforts by the Department of Justice to investigate the former president for trying to overturn the 2020 election result and inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC that resulted in several deaths. It could also be related to a separate DOJ probe into 15 boxes of classified documents that Trump took with him to Mar-a-Lago after leaving office. Although federal law prohibits moving classified material to unauthorized locations, Trump might argue that, in his final days as president, he got to make the final call on declassifying the files. Either way, the raid — which has not yet been confirmed by the DOJ — will surely cause political ripples in the coming days: the former president and his fans will cite the search as proof that the so-called "deep state" is trying to stop him from running again in 2024, while Democrats and never-Trump Republicans likely hope that the FBI was indeed looking for evidence linked to the Jan. 6 committee hearings that could help indict Trump.

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Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni during a campaign rally in Rieti.

Riccardo Fabi via Reuters Connect

Is she Italy’s next prime minister?

After 17 months of relative stability, Italian politics has again become a roller-coaster ride, and a country that’s had 18 governments in 34 years will soon have another. With the collapse of Mario Draghi’s coalition, a new election will likely take place in September or October.

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Annie Gugliotta

What We're Watching: Draghi's departure, Russian annexation plans, two-way race for British PM

Draghi throws in the towel

Italy's embattled Prime Minister Mario Draghi finally stepped down on Thursday for a second time in a week, hours after winning a vote of confidence in the upper house of parliament on Wednesday evening. This time, President Sergio Mattarella didn't reject his resignation but asked him to continue as caretaker PM, presumably until a fresh election is held.

The vote of confidence was partly hijacked by mass abstentions from three of the top parties in his coalition: the populist 5-Star Movement, the far-right Lega, and the center-right Forza Italia. The no-shows broke Draghi’s hopes of keeping together a strong majority, and in the end he kept his promise to stay on as PM only if he held the coalition together. That was impossible since both Lega and Forza Italia wanted to ditch 5-Star, which they blame for the government’s collapse after rejecting Draghi's energy crisis relief plan.

The PM's departure puts an end to 18 months of a fragile unity coalition government, and ushers in a period of deep uncertainty for Italy and Europe at a critical time. Inflation and energy costs are both surging, and Draghi didn't have time to pass the reforms necessary to unlock EU pandemic relief funds. Also, the next government might be led by the Euroskeptic far-right party Brothers of Italy, out of the coalition and whose leader Georgia Meloni celebrated the exit of "Super Mario".

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Annie Gugliotta & Paige Fusco

Who’s running Italy?

Italy’s government has been thrown into a period of uncertainty. On Thursday, Prime Minister Mario Draghi offered to step down after the populist 5-Star Movement, one of the biggest parties in his coalition government, refused to back his 23 billion euro ($23.1 billion) energy crisis relief plan. But President Sergio Mattarella refused the resignation.

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President Joe Biden speaks about gas prices at the White House.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

What We're Watching: Biden's gas tax holiday plan, deadly quake in Afghanistan, Italy's Five Star party woes

Biden’s gas tax holiday fuels tepid response

In a bid to address rising gas prices at home, President Joe Biden on Wednesday called for a gas tax holiday that would lift federal taxes on gas and diesel for the next three months. The move aims to show that the White House is taking the plight of Americans seriously after gas prices topped a whopping $5 a gallon last week. But Congress is unlikely to approve the suspension. Even Democrats – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – have canned the idea, saying that it is tokenistic because lifting federal taxes (18 cents per gallon) will barely move the needle, and that any small gains will be made by … oil companies. Critics also say that it won't have a significant impact on the base price of gas, with all taxes on average (state and federal) accounting for just 12% of the overall price. Indeed, this is the latest (desperate) attempt by the Biden administration to tackle the rising cost of living that is pummeling working-class Americans and contributing to his cratering poll numbers ahead of November’s midterm elections. The next step? In July, Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia to try and get Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to pump more oil.

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GZERO World

What We’re Watching: Draghi’s gamble, new hotspot for US-bound migrants, Russia-Ukraine water wars

"Super Mario" takes his chances: Less than five months after becoming Italy's consensus prime minister, Mario Draghi's coalition government is on shaky ground over Draghi's proposed judicial reforms. "Super Mario" — as he's known for saving the Eurozone as European Central Bank chief during the financial crisis — wants to dramatically speed up Italy's famously slow courts. But his push to reduce judicial backlogs is opposed both by the populist 5-Star Movement, the coalition government's biggest party, and by prosecutors because many cases could be scrapped before reaching a verdict. Draghi, upset that this resistance is stalling his other initiatives to cut Italian red tape, has decided to roll the dice anyway: he'll put his plan to overhaul the courts to a no-confidence vote in parliament. If Draghi wins, he gets the reforms passed without debate; if he loses, the PM technically has to resign, but he'll keep his job because he has enough votes even if the 5-Star Movement bows out of the coalition.

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