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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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Italy's first female PM Giorgia Meloni

Reuters

Hard Numbers: Italy taps first female PM, judge sentences Bannon, UN sanctions “Barbecue,” Secret Mar-a-Lago papers

1: Giorgia Meloni was named Italy’s first female prime minister on Friday after receiving the mandate to form a government. The far-right head of the Brothers of Italy takes the helm amid worsening economic and energy crises. All eyes will be on her ability to keep together a discordant coalition.

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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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Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni poses with her ballot at a polling station in Rome.

REUTERS/Yara Nardi

What We’re Watching: Italian far-right wins big, Russia holds sham votes in Ukraine

Far-right sweeps to power in Italian election

As expected, a three-party coalition led by the far-right won Italy's legislative election on Sunday, paving the way for Giorgia Meloni to become the country's first female PM and most rightwing leader since Benito Mussolini. With almost all ballots counted, Meloni's Brothers of Italy party came in first with over 26% of the vote. Along with Lega and Forza Italia, the coalition she leads will get more than 43% — enough for a majority of seats in both the 400-member lower house of parliament and the 200-member Senate. What happens next? The three parties have about six weeks to form a government captained by Meloni, who's pretty radical on some things but less so on others. She wants to stay in the EU but for Brussels to have less power over Italian affairs. Meloni also backs EU and NATO moves to support Ukraine against Russia (unlike one of her two junior coalition partners, former PM Silvio Berlusconi, a longtime Vladimir Putin pal who seemed to defend Russia's invasion on the eve of the election). Still, Meloni's top priority now is ensuring that Italy gets all the EU pandemic relief cash it needs to weather high inflation and an energy crisis.

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From left to right, Lega leader Matteo Salvini, Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi, and Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni during a campaign rally in Rome.

REUTERS/Yara Nardi

What We're Watching: Italian election, Chinese anti-corruption drive, Lebanese bank shutdown

Italy votes!

Italians head to the polls on Sunday and are likely to elect Italy’s first far-right leader since World War II. Giorgia Meloni, 47, who heads the Brothers of Italy Party (which has neofascist roots) is slated to become Italy’s next PM. Polls indicate Brothers will win about a quarter of the vote, while her three-party coalition, including Matteo Salvini’s far-right Lega Party and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, is projected to secure around 45%. Four years ago, Brothers – established in 2012 – reaped just 4% of the vote, but it has benefited recently from the left’s implosion as well as Meloni’s refusal to back the centrist Draghi government, which collapsed this summer, making her the most formidable opposition figure (Salvini and Berlusconi backed Draghi). Italy has convoluted voting rules but will be voting on 400 seats in the Chamber of Deputies (lower house) and 200 seats in the Senate – the winning coalition needs a majority in both. Meloni aims to dilute the EU’s power over Italian affairs, though she believes Rome must preserve close ties with Brussels, and she supports EU and NATO efforts to contain Russian aggression. Read this primer to learn more about what Meloni does – and doesn’t – stand for.

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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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From left to right, the leaders of Forza Italia (Silvio Berlusconi), Brothers of Italy (Giorgia Meloni), and Lega (Matteo Salvini) attend an anti-government rally in Rome.

Vandeville Eric/ABACA via Reuters Connect

Hard Numbers: Italian far-right soars, Chinese developers get help, Argentine minister sacked, Ukranians want war souvenirs

40: A week after Italian PM Mario Draghi's official resignation, a far-right coalition is on track to win the Sept. 25 parliamentary election. A Politico Europe poll says the Brothers of Italy, Lega, and Forza Italia parties will together scoop up 40% of the vote.

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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.

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