Italian voters on Sunday elected a right-wing coalition to a majority in both houses of parliament, with the leader of the bloc’s largest party set to become the first female prime minister in Italy’s history.
As reported by The Guardian, the snap election for Italy’s parliament was triggered after the previous government, a broad multi-party coalition led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi, lost the support of the centrist and anti-establishment party Five Star Movement (M5S), which had become the largest party in parliament after the 2018 elections.
The official results soon confirmed projections by exit polls later in the night: Clear majorities in both houses were won by the right-wing coalition, consisting of the right-wing parties Brothers of Italy, League (formerly Northern League), and Forza Italia.
Brothers of Italy, a populist, nationalist, and Eurosceptic party, decisively became the largest party in the right-wing bloc, with League in a distant second and Forza Italia, led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in third.
Brothers of Italy also became the largest single party in Parliament overall. Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni will most likely become the next prime minister, making Italian history as the first woman to hold the office.
Much of the mainstream media reacted to the right-wing bloc’s win, and particularly Meloni’s rise, by calling it a victory for the “far-right,” with some calling the incoming coalition the most right-wing government in Italy since the end of World War II.
Meloni is an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and has also called for severely reducing the flow of immigrants into Italy, a recurring theme in many nationalist and populist governments that have been rising worldwide in the last decade.
Over the course of the previous four years, Italy had seen three different governments form due to the hung parliament resulting from the prior elections, ranging from a populist and anti-establishment coalition formed between M5S and League, to a subsequent coalition consisting of M5S, the left-wing Democratic Party, and the left-wing Free and Equal Party; both governments were led by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of the Five Star Movement. The third and final coalition consisted of parties from across the political spectrum, including the Five Star Movement, League, the Democratic Party, and Forza Italia; during this government, the Brothers of Italy had been the sole opposition party.
Now that the right-wing bloc holds a firm majority in both houses, the resultant government will likely remain in power until the next regularly-scheduled elections.
The 2022 elections are also the first to occur after several major legislative and election law changes. A constitutional referendum in 2020, approved by 70 percent of Italian voters, saw the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, reduced from 630 seats to 400, while the upper house, the Senate of the Republic, shrank from 315 to 200 seats. In addition, whereas the minimum voting ages for the two chambers had been different—18 years old for the chamber and 25 years old for the senate—a constitutional law passed in 2021 lowered the minimum age to 18 for both chambers.
With Italy being the third-largest economy in Europe, the rise of a firmly right-wing government is expected to present a major obstacle for the leaders of the European Union (EU), a multi-nation bloc that has seen increased resistance from member-states in recent years. Having been criticized for implementing laws regarding commerce, immigration, and free speech and censorship that infringe upon the laws of individual states, several European nations have since seen the rise of anti-EU parties, known as Eurosceptics, over the last 10 years. The most prominent example is the 2016 decision by the United Kingdom to formally leave the EU, a process known as “Brexit.”