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Italian PM Giorgia Meloni during a press conference in Rome.

LaPresse / Roberto Monaldo/Sipa via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Meloni’s migrant moves, a cartel for rainforests, Haiti’s hope for fuel

Meloni draws a line on migrants

Since becoming Italy’s prime minister two weeks ago, Giorgia Meloni has pushed back against media attempts to portray her as a far-right nationalist euro-skeptic troublemaker. Aware that Italy needs cash from the EU, she’s presented her government as ready to negotiate with Brussels on outstanding issues in good faith. She’s made clear her support for Ukraine and NATO. Yet, she does stand ready to strike a harder line on migration policy as asylum-seekers continue to arrive by boat. (Italy has already received 85,000 migrants from across the Mediterranean this year.) On Sunday, two rescue ships that made port in Sicily were told that children and people with medical problems were allowed off the ships, but able-bodied men were not considered “vulnerable” and must remain on board. The ships were then ordered to leave, but their captains refused to budge. Rights groups and Italian opposition politicians say Italy’s decision violates EU law and the Geneva Convention. Meloni knows that many Italians expect a harder line on asylum policy and that greenlighting the entry of all migrants encourages more people to take the risky journey across the Med. This standoff is just the beginning of the Meloni government’s battle with EU officials and aid groups over an issue that provokes strong emotions on both sides.

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Brothers of Italy party leader Giorgia Meloni attends the fourth voting session to elect the new parliament speaker in Rome.

REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

What We’re Watching: Italy’s new leadership questions, Russia’s martial law, US midterm messaging

Meloni faces uphill battle in Italy

How long can any Italian government last? That’s a good question in a country that has had 67 governments in the past 76 years. Now Giorgia Meloni, head of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, is set to take over as prime minister, and the going won’t be easy. The economy is hurtling towards recession, says the IMF, while consumer prices are soaring, particularly for energy – in part due to the war in Ukraine. But while she has pledged continued support for Ukraine, Meloni’s coalition partner Silvio Berlusconi, head of Forza Italia, has signaled a different view. The aging former prime minister and media mogul is picking fights over ministerial posts, belittling Meloni publicly, and in a leaked recording, talked about recently exchanging liquor with Vladimir Putin while questioning Italy’s support for Kyiv. Berlusconi is a minor partner compared to the more powerful Matteo Salvini and his rightist League Party, but Meloni has also clashed with Salvini on energy matters. So we’ll be watching to see how warm and cozy this coalition stays as Meloni heads into a winter of troubles.

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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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The Graphic Truth: Migrants reach Italy by sea

Italy has seen an influx of illegal migrant arrivals via the Mediterranean Sea in recent weeks, overwhelming processing centers on the island of Lampedusa and resulting in several deaths. “The Mediterranean is becoming the biggest cemetery of the desperate,” one Sicilian official said. The summer months often see an uptick in migrants arrivals from North Africa and South Asia, and the recent wave comes as Italy’s anti-immigrant far-right political bloc looks set to win national elections this fall. We take a look at migrant arrival numbers since 2014.

Italy Elections: Rightist & Center-Right forces Leading Opinion Polls | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

Europe's heat wave highlights climate & energy dependencies

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics, from the Adriatic Sea.

What's going to be the fallout of the resignation of the Draghi government in Italy?

Quite substantial. I would suspect, Mario Draghi with his government, very broad government has given Italy credibility both in terms of economic policy management, reform policies, and foreign policy not the least on Ukraine, during quite some time. He was thrown out by the populist and the rightist parties for obscure reasons. And now there will be elections on September the 25th. What's going to come thereafter? We don't know. The rightist and the center-right forces are leading in opinion polls at the moment, but all bets are off.

How is Europe handling the heatwave and the energy crisis?

Yep, that's really what's dominating. The heat wave immediately, of course, primarily in the south of Europe, but it's also in other places, emphasizing the importance of the climate transition. But also all of the issues related to our energy dependence, primarily the gas dependence of Germany and a couple of other countries on Russia, are much of the focus of the politics of Europe in the middle of the summer.

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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