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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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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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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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Marcos attends a news conference at his headquarters in Manila.

REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

What We're Watching: Marcos inauguration, Indian religious tensions, risotto shortage

Will Marcos 2.0 be kind to the Philippine media?

Weeks after winning the election in a landslide, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (aka Bongbong, or more recently BBM) will be inaugurated on Thursday as president of the Philippines. He has a lot on his plate, including uniting — as he promised repeatedly during the campaign — a country deeply divided over the legacy of his father, the late dictator. One issue that'll surely pop up soon is how he'll handle the media, which was heavily censored under the elder Marcos’ martial law. On Tuesday, the Philippine SEC ordered the shutdown of Rappler, the news site run by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, a vocal critic of outgoing strongman President Rodrigo Duterte. BBM will also face pressure to return a broadcast franchise to ABS-CBN, the country's biggest network, which Duterte canceled in early 2020 (and Marcos' dad also took off the air entirely in the 1980s). Supporters say Marcos 2.0 wants to kick off his presidency with a charm offensive to appease his enemies, but he may have more of a problem with his most powerful friend. Overturning two of Duterte's most controversial decisions would not go down well with the famously pugnacious outgoing leader — whose feisty daughter is … Marcos’s VP.

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