December 8, 2022

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Italy’s election winners seek rare political stability

Italy's election winners seek rare political stability

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  • The right-wing bloc will have a clear majority in both houses
  • Meloni will be the country’s first female prime minister
  • The leader of the association says the government will be stable
  • The government is not expected to be sworn in for a few weeks
  • Record low turnout overshadows the result

ROME (Reuters) – The right-wing coalition that won Italy’s national elections will usher in a rare era of political stability to tackle a host of problems plaguing the euro zone’s third-largest economy, a senior figure in the right-wing coalition that won Italy’s national elections said on Monday.

Georgia Meloni appears set to become Italy’s first female prime minister to head the most right-wing government since World War Two, after leading a conservative coalition to victory in Sunday’s election.

said Matteo Salvini, leader of the League party which is one of the main allies of the Meloni Brothers of Italy.

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The near final results showed that the right-wing bloc, which also includes Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, should have a solid majority in both houses of parliament, which could end years of turmoil and fragile alliances.

The result is the right’s latest success in Europe after a breakthrough by anti-immigration Sweden Democrats in this month’s elections and progress made by France’s National Rally in June.

Meloni downplays her party’s post-fascist roots as a mainstream group like Britain’s Conservative Party. She has pledged to support Western policy on Ukraine and not to risk Italy’s fragile finances.

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Meloni, who has spoken out against what she calls “the gay lobby” and mass immigration, struck a conciliatory tone in her victory speech in the early hours of Monday.

“If we are called to rule this nation, we will do so for all Italians, with the goal of uniting the people and focusing on what unites us and not what divides us,” she told cheering supporters. “This is the time to take responsibility.”

difficult inheritance

Meloni and her allies face a daunting list of challenges, including rising energy prices, the war in Ukraine and a renewed slowdown in the eurozone’s third-largest economy.

Its coalition government, Italy’s 68th since 1946, is unlikely to be installed before the end of October and Prime Minister Mario Draghi remains at the helm of the interim administration for now.

Despite talk of stability, Meloni’s coalition is divided on some highly sensitive issues that may be difficult to reconcile once he takes over government.

Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, propelled Rome to the center of EU policymaking during his 18-month tenure in office, building close ties with Paris and Berlin.

In Europe, the first to applaud Meloni’s victory were hard-right opposition parties in Spain and France, Poland and Hungary’s conservative nationalist governments whose relations with Brussels soured.

Salvini is skeptical of the West’s sanctions against Russia, and he and Berlusconi have often expressed admiration for its leader, Vladimir Putin.

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The allies also have different views on how to deal with high energy bills and have made a range of promises, including tax cuts and pension reform, that Italy will struggle to afford.

With results counted in more than 97% of polling stations, the Brothers of Italy led with more than 26% of the vote, up from just 4% in the last national election in 2018, replacing the League as a driving force on the right.

The League only got around 9%, down from more than 17% four years ago, but despite the relatively low score, Salvini said he would stay on as the party’s leader. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia team scored about 8%.

Center-left and center-left parties won more votes than the right, but were punished with an electoral law that rewarded broad coalitions. Enrico Letta, head of the main opposition party, the Democratic Party, announced that he would step down as leader.

Despite its clear result, the vote was not a strong endorsement of the right bloc. The turnout was just 64% versus 73% four years ago – a record low in a country that has historically had strong voter participation.

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This story was reported by Elisa Anzulin from Milan. Additional reporting by Crispian Palmer, Angelo Amanti, Gavin Jones and Elvis Armellini in Rome. Editing by Crispian Palmer and Nick McPhee

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.