IT-GiorgiaMeloniBy Eric J. Lyman

ROME -- Italy was all but assured of having its first right-wing government since the fall of Mussolini on Sunday, after exit polls showed Brothers of Italy had become the country's largest political party with nearly a quarter of the overall vote, outpacing more than a dozen other parties.

That sets the table for Giorgia Meloni, 45, a former Fascist activist who has sent shivers to the spines of more traditional leaders across the 27-nation European Union. If she becomes prime minister, Ms. Meloni will be the first woman to hold that post in Italy.

Next up: Italy's head of state, Sergio Mattarella, will meet with the leaders of the largest parties in the coming days and ask one leader, probably Ms. Meloni, to try to cobble together a majority coalition. Together, the three main right-wing parties totaled around 40 percent of the vote, but with electoral laws providing extra seats to the party with the most votes, there will be a right-of-center majority if the parties work together as they have vowed to.
Regardless of what happens, the strong result for the Brothers of Italy will create a delicate game for European powers to keep Italy -- the third largest economy in the European Union -- from drifting toward authoritarian EU member states like Hungary and Poland. And that is a game that will have impacts around the world, whether on NATO commitments, the united stance against Russia in Ukraine, European integration.
Meloni has called for a naval blockade to halt immigration from Africa and believes Italy should take a more abrasive stance to defend Italy's rights within the 27-nation European Union. Meloni's party logo still includes the tri-colored Fascist flame and she still uses the Mussolini-era slogan "God, homeland, and family."
But she has also worked to distance herself from her image as a simple far-right firebrand: "We will show that there is nobody in the world who needs to be afraid of us," she told a rally last week.
That hasn't stopped the German magazine Stern from calling Meloni "the most dangerous woman in Europe," and The Guardian, from the U.K., said she was "a danger to Italy and the rest of Europe." In France, Le Monde called her a "figurehead of the radical right."
But while European leaders were apprehensive over the rise of Meloni, Italians were mixed. Meloni's supporters said the Rome native and her allies will help "spark change" and "send the old parties to hell." But even those who did not support her were philosophical.
"I didn't vote for them, but I think Brothers of Italy will win and I think the Italians will struggle but survive," said Anna Di Lorenzo, a 51-year-old shop owner who voted in the blue-collar Rome neighborhood of Testaccio. "We've seen this before."
Vittorio Mazzi, a 35-year-old bus driver who voted in a polling site in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood, said he resented warnings against Ms. Meloni from non-Italian leaders in Europe.
"I recognize her faults but if people aren't Italian they should just recognize our right to vote as we please," he said.
Though right-wing Italian parties have been part of Italian governments in the past, this would be the first time such a group will hold power on its own since Fascist strongman Benito Mussolini was overthrown in 1943. Ms. Meloni, whose party is founded on the ashes of Mr. Mussolini's Fascists, is likely to head the 74th Italian government in the 79 since Mr. Mussolini's fall.
Both Ms. Meloni and likely coalition partner Silvio Berlusconi went into the election raising a series of gaffes. Berlusconi is a billionaire media tycoon and a four-time prime minister whose party is predicted to be a junior member of any right-of-center coalition.
Last Monday, Brothers of Italy suspended Calogero Pisano, one of the party's candidates for parliament in Sicily, after it was revealed words of praise for Adolf Hitler, calling him a "great statesman," as well as Russia's Vladimir Putin, saying "I'm with him."
Then on Friday, Mr. Berlusconi declared that Putin was forced to invade Ukraine in order to replace the government of Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky with "decent people" far removed from the European Union consensus stance on the Ukraine conflict. Mr. Berlusconi's remark sparked a round of chuckling in EU capitals and in Brussels, where top officials declined to address the comment.
Also on Friday, Ms. Meloni said that if she becomes the country's premiere she'd withdraw from China's Belt-and-Road Initiative. Since Italy joined the program in 2018, it has sparked billions in new investments but also sparked fears it would take Italy closer to becoming a kind of Chinese economic vassal state. That deal was agreed to by a government headed by a rival to Ms. Meloni, former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, with Meloni-ally, Matteo Salvini of the anti-migrant League, as a senior partner.

Photo: Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party, could become Italy's next prime minister and the first woman to hold the position.
Source: Courtesy of the Brothers of Italy official website.

Story/ photo published date: 09/25/2022

A version of this story was published in the Washington Times.
b_179_129_16777215_00_images_RWA161616aa001.jpegKIGALI, Rwanda — Raking through the knee-high grass on his tea farm to clear fallen tree branches, Ezekiel Shinga marvels at how life has changed in his country in the 22 years after the genocide that made this tiny east African county a watchword for horror and brutality around the world.

“I think no one could have predicted the strides Rwanda has made in the past two decades,” said Mr. Shinga, whose farm is in the southern district of Nyaruguru. “Everything in this country has changed. People own businesses, and the majority here are tea farmers. At least everyone has income. There’s peace, and neighbors now love each other.”

Read more at The Washington Times

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_USAObama130222AA001.jpegATHENS — President Obama called for a "course correction" for the global economy Wednesday in an effort to stave off the nationalist impulses being felt in the United States and Europe.

In an address to the Greek people, Obama said growing distrust of elites and institutions demands that democratic governments work to become more responsive to the people they serve.

Read more at USA Today

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ISR150318aa001.jpegJERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud Party swept to a decisive victory results showed Wednesday in a general election that exposed Israel's rifts at home and abroad, including with the White House.

With the majority of votes counted, Likud won 30 of the 120 seats in the country's Knesset, or parliament. The center-left opposition Zionist Union party led by Isaac Herzog won 24 seats. Israel's Election Committee is expected to confirm the results Thursday.

Read more at USA Today

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JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud Party swept to a decisive victory results showed Wednesday in a general election that exposed Israel's rifts at home and abroad, including with the White House.

With the majority of votes counted, Likud won 30 of the 120 seats in the country's Knesset, or parliament. The center-left opposition Zionist Union party led by Isaac Herzog won 24 seats. Israel's Election Committee is expected to confirm the results Thursday.

Read more at USA Today
b_179_129_16777215_00_images_111111.jpegGAZA CITY — As the Palestinian death toll rose, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Friday to continue to target members of Hamas with air strikes in Gaza until rockets the militant group has been firing into Israel from the southern border halt.

"I will end it when our goals are realized. And the overriding goal is to restore the peace and quiet," Netanyahu said at a news conference.

Read more at USA Today

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_5410433581_8ae746d004.jpegBAGHDAD — Islamic militants Tuesday attacked areas in central Baqouba, a city just 30 miles northeast of Iraq's capital Baghdad, but were pushed back by security forces and tribal fighters.

In one incident, at least 44 Sunni prisoners died in an apparent foiled rescue attempt by Sunni Muslim militants from the al-Qaeda breakaway group known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — referred to as ISIL or ISIS. The Levant is a traditional name for the region including Iraq and greater Syria.

Read more at USA Today


ABUJA, Nigeria — Frustration and despair over the fate of hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic extremists in northern Nigeria is forcing families to organize the rescue themselves.

"We are trying to search for our daughters on our own," said a mother of one of the girls, asking to remain unidentified out of fear of causing her daughter further harm. "Soon we will be heading to the forest.

Read more at USA Today

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_EGY130705aa003.jpegCAIRO - Violence persisted at Egypt’s universities this week as part of a broader conflict between authorities and student protesters that underscores rights’ activists concerns about obstacles facing independence of the nation’s universities.

On Wednesday, three blasts erupted outside Cairo University, apparently targeting riot police deployed to deal with protests staged almost daily by students. A senior police officer was killed and five others were wounded, Egypt’s state news agency reported. The protest movement Students Against the Coup distanced itself from the attack, cancelling a protest planned for midday at Cairo University. But the incident underscores wider anger at a security crackdown on government opposition.

Read more at Al-Fanar Media


Following the October 3 deaths of around 400 migrants off the Italian island of Lampedusa, European leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday have promised to put immigration on the agenda alongside scheduled discussions on growth, competitiveness and fighting unemployment. But as long they hold to the illusion that interests of migrants are at odds with those of "native" workers, their policies will continue to put lives at risk – and will do nothing to help the EU economy.

Over the past decade, Europe has invested more and more money on keeping non-Europeans out. Frontex, created in 2005 to police Europe’s external borders, saw its budget balloon from €19 million in 2006 to €85 million in 2012. But analysts say this approach does little to reduce overall immigration figures and merely plays into the hands of those ready to exploit irregular immigration, from people-smugglers to unscrupulous employers.



ATHENS - In crisis-ridden Greece, a network of volunteer-run crisis clinics is providing citizens with the medical care denied them by the state. 

Read more at Deutsche Welle


Whether by a harrowing boat trip across the Mediterranean, a mountain crossing over the Turkish border or a flight to Germany, more than 2 million Syrians have fled their war-torn country to take refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq as well as in the Gulf countries and in Europe.

Two million people have fled the war as of September, says the United Nations. Those who got away from the 30-month-old conflict share horror stories of snipers and aerial bombardment, of murdered loved ones and wounded friends. The problems they face in their new homes varies tremendously depending on the country.

Read more at USA Today


NEW DELHI — Eight young women dressed in red tunics and black scarves make their way along a narrow lane in Lucknow's Madiyav slum in northern India as young men move quickly out of their way, avoiding their eyes.

The girls reach a house at the corner of the lane: Two go in and emerge with a young man. Preeti Verma, 17, has a hand around his neck and pushes him toward the girls who then pummel him with slippers and their fists. No onlookers intervene.

Read more at USA Today

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_DEU130629aa001.jpegBERLIN - Germany takes in more refugees than any other rich country. But that does not mean it is easy for the hundreds of thousands of refugees stuck in limbo.

One year and eight months since Chima Oxumbor arrived at Düsseldorf's police station to appeal for asylum, he has a €1-an-hour (85p-an-hour) job cleaning the toilets and floors at the camp where he shares a room with four or five other people. His life in Germany is not what he expected.

Read more at The Guardian

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