ROME — Italy is on course to elect its most right-wing government since World War II, after projections suggested a coalition led by Giorgia Meloni is set to take power.
If the projections and exit polls are confirmed, the right will take control at a critical time for the European Union’s third-biggest economy, with Russia’s war in Ukraine driving inflation and testing the limits of Western unity against Moscow.
Such a result would raise major questions about Italy’s future direction at home and internationally. Divisive identity politics will suddenly be in the mainstream of national debate, while Meloni brings a potentially disruptive voice to the top table of EU decision-making. Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister of Poland, which fell out with Brussels in a rule of law dispute, tweeted his “congratulations” to Meloni before she had even declared victory.
Projections based on a partial count of senate votes from pollster Consorzio Opinio, for broadcaster Rai, put Meloni’s Brothers of Italy on 24.6 percent, the anti-immigration League party on 8.5 percent and former PM Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia on 8 percent.
Overall, the results would give the right-wing coalition a total of 42.2 percent of the vote in the senate, if accurate.
“Italy has chosen us and we will not betray her,” Meloni told her raucous supporters, who had waited until 2:30 a.m. to hear from her at the party’s election night event in Rome. “We will work so that Italians can be proud to be Italian again.” Meloni said that while the results were not yet final, there was a clear indication that Italians wanted a government led by her party.
At the five-star hotel where the election celebrations were being held, Meloni was greeted with cheering and began singing along to a pop song on stage, before saying “we will sing later.”
She said her party’s lead in the results so far amounted to “a night of pride, a night of redemption, a night of tears, hugs, dreams and memories. This night shows that the apparently impossible bets are possible.”
Meloni’s main left-wing rivals had already conceded defeat. Debora Serracchiani leader of the Democratic Party group in the lower house told a press conference earlier: “Undoubtedly we cannot, given the data we have, not attribute victory to the right, led by Giorgia Meloni.” She said the Democrats on the left would be a responsible opposition and said the responsibility was even more important given the majority of the right in parliament did not represent the majority of the country.
MP Guido Crosetto, one of the founders of Brothers of Italy, told POLITICO that his colleagues’ priority will be “to address the cost of energy and inflation, which are destroying the social and economic fabric of Europe; there is the budget to approve in a short time, so it’s a very difficult moment, but we are leadership…