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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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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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