Giorgia Meloni, the 45-year-old head of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, is a seasoned and communicative leader who is poised to become Italy’s first female prime minister, leading the most right-wing government since World War II.
Despite being known for her tough-talking and staunch coherence in her political battles, Meloni’s recent evolution as the front-runner after Sept. 25 elections leaves questions about her future as a leader.
Meloni, who started her political career when she was only 15 in Rome’s working-class Garbatella neighborhood, helped found the Brothers of Italy in 2012, four years after becoming the country’s youngest minister under Silvio Berlusconi.
Her party has been denting electoral support of its traditional allies – Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s League – surging from 4% in 2018 to around 25% in the last available surveys ahead of Sunday’s election.
In her years at the helm of Brothers of Italy, Meloni has managed to transform an originally neo-fascist party, born from the ashes of the late Mussolini era, into a populist and nationalist political force able to attract voters from the rightist and moderate electorate.
“I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am a Christian,” is one of Meloni’s most popular rallying quotes, which became viral on social media and has even been turned into a rap song.
“While her government will not have fascist overtones, it is questionable whether Meloni will stick to the compromising line that she has carefully steered during the election campaign,” said Wolfango Piccoli, head of London-based research firm, Teneo.
Meloni, who originally was very critical of the EU’s fiscal policies, is not expected to pick a fight with Brussels in the short term, said Piccoli, but it remains to be seen if her past Eurosceptic stance could make a comeback.
Analysts stressed that during the electoral campaign, Meloni has been talking to two different audiences. On one side, international allies, which she tried to reassure her support for defending Ukraine and her sound pro-NATO approach. On the other side, the internal public and her traditional electorate, for which she insisted on anti-migrant and anti-LGBQ policies.