Italians take to the election polls, Left clings to optimism
Ahead of an election likely to deliver a radical right government for the first time in Italy’s postwar history, supporters of progressive parties clinging to optimism while preparing for the worst.
Italian election polls opened on Sunday as the public began voting in a drastic legislative election, which will end Sunday night when exit polls signal the winner of the final result, but it seems as though the far-right party is anticipated to take the win and lead Europe's third-largest economy for the first time since World War II.
Far-right Brothers of Italy party runner-up Giorgia Meloni intends on becoming Italy's first female PM, allied with two other parties on the right, as she displays her rejection of being linked to Italy's fascist past, but she advocates Western sanctions on Russia and supports an old slogan adopted by fascists - "God, fatherland, and family."
The far-right party demonstrates its "Italians First" nationalist agenda that vows to end mass migration into the country as a key aspect of their campaign. Meloni's main opponent in the polls - center-left Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta - is due to face a struggle as he shares policies with the Five Star Movement led by Giuseppe Conte.
In the town of Latina south of Rome, founded in 1932 by fascist leader Benito Mussolini, residents believe the Brothers of Italy and its coalitions can seize the town from the left perspective as it still suffers from the heavy underfunding by Mussolini. The town has had a left-wing past but the far-right has eyes on it - Meloni's ally Matteo Salvini visited last week to promote his League party's campaign alongside center-right party Forza Italia's leader Silvio Berlusconi.
Gianluca Atlante, a journalist with the local newspaper Latina Oggi, said, "Meloni speaks to the guts of the people." Italy did not only bear one of the biggest brunts of the Covid-19 pandemic but the energy crisis sent prices soaring and its economy deteriorating. The Italian Cabinet announced earlier this month that a new package of economic aid to help Italian households and companies was underway, and it will include some $6.2 billion for measures to curb energy prices and solve the crisis.
In light of that, the EU agreed to send Italy €200bn (£178bn) in post-Covid recovery payments but its condition lies on reforms by the outgoing unity government of Mario Draghi. Meloni announced her plan to revise the reforms to serve and "defend" Italy's national interests in the EU.
A coalition that takes 40% of the vote could seize as many as 60% of seats in the house of parliament, according to Italian commentators. Even if Brothers of Italy do obtain the majority votes, and Meloni is handed an overall majority by her allies, her selection as PM does not rely on them - it depends on President Sergio Mattarella.
Berlusconi, whose past is infested with scandals, brushed off worries that Meloni may possibly become the next prime minister. An agreement between them stipulates however that whoever gets the most votes choose the prime minister. Based on this, he said, "If it is Giorgia, I am sure she will prove capable of the difficult task."