Italy elections: Sicilian voters voice their support for Meloni
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Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s new Prime Minister, is “certain” to be in office longer than Liz Truss, Britain’s recently ousted woman Prime Minister, a UK-based expert has said. And Dr Marina Cino Pagliarello said despite his latest controversial remarks, former leader Silvio Berlusconi was an “embarrassing uncle” – and an increasingly peripheral figure in Italian politics.
Ms Meloni was confirmed as her country’s new leader on October 22, replacing Mario Draghi – just two days after Ms Truss announced she was resigning after 45 catastrophic days in office.
However, despite superficial similarities, Dr Cino Pagliarello, a Visiting Fellow at the LSE’s European Institute, stressed Ms Meloni, 45, was blessed with a power base Ms Truss, 18 months her senior, could only dream of.
She said: “From what we’ve seen so far, Meloni is actually changing communication style which has become very convincing.
“She’s pretty ambiguous because we have the image of Meloni in Parliament, very calm, very open, and very communicative.”
However, referring to a speech to the right-wing, anti-immigration Spanish political party, she added: “Then there is the Meloni image in Spain, when she was shouting at a Vox meeting.
“So these are the two sides of Milan and it’s very early to say which side of Meloni it will be in the government now.”
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Referring to a speech in which Ms Meloni set out her government’s priorities, Dr Cino Pagliarello said the Brothers of Italy leader had covered everything from the war on Ukraine to the energy crisis and had managed to “control” coalition partners Mr Berlusconi, of Forza Italia, and Matteo Salvini, the leader of Lega Nord.
Referring to Italy’s recent general election, Dr Cino Pagliarello said: “You have to remember that she has 26 percent of first preferences. That’s a lot whereas the other two coalition members had eight percent.
“We really have to implement the recovery and resilience plan, the one that was set by the European Union.
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“I don’t think that we will have any surprises in the next 44 days so she will certainly last longer than Liz Truss.”
Ms Meloni will nevertheless have to deal with Mr Berlusconi, who hit the headlines recently after revealing he had been sent a “sweet letter” from Russian President Vladimir Putin along with 20 bottles of vodka in an apparent breach of EU sanctions.
Additionally, in a note photographed by the press, Mr Berlusconi referred to Ms Meloni as “patronising, bossy, arrogant and offensive” – but Dr Cino Pagliarello said she did not anticipate him posing a major problem to her premiership.
She explained: “Berlusconi has a problem with any woman who is emancipated so Meloni is a problem because she’s the only one who was basically was not part of a Berlusconi cohort of women.
“So she’s free and she doesn’t have to be with him for gratitude like the other women in Forza Italia.”
Agreeing that the 86-year-old could be fairly referred to as an “embarrassing uncle”, Dr Cino Pagliarello said: “Let’s say he doesn’t want to give up but Forza Italia has always been a one-man party, especially now, there is nobody else.
“I don’t think he will really be a problem for her.”
Speaking today, Ms Meloni defended her government against criticism that a decree banning rave parties could be used to clamp down on sit-ins and other forms of protest while a march by thousands of fascist sympathisers to the crypt of Benito Mussolini, whom she famously praised when she was a teenager, went unchallenged.
In a Facebook post she said: “We will never deny anyone the right to express dissent,” accusing those suggesting that might be the case of “instrumentalisation”.
Ms Meloni insisted the decree was necessary “after years in which the government has bowed its head in the face of illegality.”
When property is occupied without authorisation and drug use and sales were prevalent, “it is right to prosecute illegal raves,” she added.
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