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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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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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