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Italy Elects Lady Mussolini Prime Minister
The first female Italian Prime Minister is a fascist.
For years, I have believed that if the United States of America ever has a female president (yes, I said if — I'm feeling a tad jaded at the moment if you'll excuse me), it will very likely be a Republican like Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert or hey, even Sarah Palin. I hate to say it but I give that better odds than it being a Democrat, if only because, oddly enough, Republicans do seem to be less likely to get stuck on whether a woman's voice is annoying or not, so long as they think she can get them to where they want to be politically.
So I guess I shouldn't be too terribly surprised that Italy's first female prime minister ( Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri ) will be a woman who has praised Benito Mussolini — while admitting he made a few mistakes here and there — and described herself as having a peaceful relationship with fascism.
Ho un rapporto sereno con il fascismo. Lo considero un passaggio della nostra storia nazionale. Mussolini ha fatto diversi errori, le leggi razziali, l'ingresso in guerra, e comunque il suo era un sistema autoritario. Storicamente ha anche prodotto tanto, ma questo non lo salva.
Translation: "I have a peaceful relationship with fascism. I consider it to be an important period in our national history. Mussolini made many errors — race laws, getting involved with the war, and establishing an authoritarian system. Historically he did a lot, but that doesn't save him."
I'm not surprised by this result; Meloni has been predicted to win for weeks now, and aside from that, neo-fascism has been on the rise in Italy since the 1990s. I am, of course, sad, disappointed and worried for the people living there.
“"I was born under Mussolini, I don't want to die under Meloni. May god help us"”
— Robyn Pennacchia (@Robyn Pennacchia) 1664144420
Meloni's party, Fratelli d'Italia (FdI), also has fascist roots, as an outgrowth of the neofascist Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI) party that replaced the National Fascist Party after Mussolini's National Fascist Party was banned.
Meloni is the current head of the "center-right coalition," comprising her own party, Fratelli d'Italia, Matteo Salvini's Lega, and Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, along with several smaller and regional parties. She claims to be "center right," but in actuality is very far Right. She opposes abortion rights; opposes same sex marriage and unions (Italy still only has civil unions); opposes the ability of same-sex couples to adopt and LGBTQ+ rights in general; opposes pregnancy surrogacy and wants to make it a crime for Italians to use a surrogate even if they leave the country to do so; opposes living wills; opposes Italy's "Citizen's Income" (an up to €780-a-month payment for job-seekers); and really hates immigrants and Muslims.
She is also a believer in the Kalergi Plan, a ridiculous anti-semitic conspiracy theory not unlike the Great Replacement, and she wants it to be legal for police to torture people, because she thinks that will help them do their jobs .
She wants to make "short divorce" illegal — meaning she wants married couples to have to be separated for three years (instead of six months) in order to get a legal divorce. This is an especially big deal in Italy where there is a very serious ongoing problem with intimate partner violence and nearly 60 percent of womenwho are murdered are killed by a husband, boyfriend or ex. The country literally had to implement "Don't Kill Your Girlfriend" classes in high schools because femicide was such a serious problem, and this one wants to make it harder to get divorced. Genius!
Of course, because it's still Europe and not the United States, Meloni is in favor of free daycare, maternity leave, child subsidies for the less well-off, and guaranteed flexible work (called lavoro agile or "smart work") for women with children under 16. Of course, this is less for altruistic reasons than because she is super racist and concerned about "the birth rate."
Blue is Meloni's Fratelli d'Italia (FdI), red is the Democratic Party (PD) and yellow is the Five Star Movement (M5S)
That a woman is leading the most far-Right Italian government since Mussolini makes a certain amount of sense. Women — white women in particular — like Marine Le Pen in France and Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert in the US frequently end up as leaders in far-Right movements largely because they "soften" the image of the hard Right. A woman can get away, to some degree, with more extreme views than a man can, especially when it comes to laws that specifically oppress women — like outlawing abortion.
While abortion has been legal (for any reason, up to 90 days into a pregnancy and in the second trimester for health reasons or genetic issues) and free of charge in Italy since 1978, it is not accessible in many areas, with a majority of gynecologists refusing to perform them, especially in the south and Sicily. Right now, the FdI is saying it will not outlaw abortion nationwide but that it will instead push for "the law" to be followed with regard to abortion — specifically the part of the law that requires a seven-day waiting period. Whether or not it will stick to that, or Meloni's promise to not try to actually get rid of the civil unions Italy has, remains to be seen.
A big reason for these election results is that Meloni's party was able to form coalitions with Italy's other rightwing parties, while Italy's Democratic Party (Partito Democratico or PD), led by politician Enrico Letta, failed to form any. He rejected the idea of an alliance with the Five Star Movement, which started out very Trumpy due to its stances on immigration and vaccines but is now also more progressive than the PD on a lot of issues. I don't know what to tell you, Italian politics is weird and confusing and you can't really look at it through an American framework. Meanwhile, more centrist parties didn't want to campaign with the progressives in the PD.
There was also record-low turnout, and although the PD, the Five Star Movement and other center-Left and centrist parties got more votes in total, the FdI's alliances helped it surge to victory. On the sort of bright side, Italy's governments frequently only last a year or two, so the possibility exists that this will be fixable.
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