In the Italian election campaign, the establishment parties and media pave the way for the fascists

The Italian election campaign suggests only one thing: the country’s leading politicians and media are determined to pave the way for fascist Giorgia Meloni to enter Palazzo Chigi, the official residence of Italy’s prime minister.

For weeks, opinion polls have been predicting a September 25 election victory for Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) and the right-wing alliance it heads. But no one is expressing alarm at the prospect of Benito Mussolini’s heirs returning to power in Italy a hundred years after he took power in October 1922. On the contrary, Meloni and her party are embraced and praised, and dangers of fascists in power downplayed.

Commenting on the complaint by the Fratelli d’Italia that its leader is “demonized by the left,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s correspondent in Rome writes, “It is rather the other way around: no one demonizes Giorgia Meloni in Italy, not even the press. She is sailing to her election victory, at least that is how it appears.”

The only condition Meloni had to fulfil to be recognized as a possible head of government was a commitment to the continuation of Mario Draghi’s austerity policies, to the European Union, to NATO and to the war against Russia. She promptly fulfilled this condition.

Italy is “a full part of Europe, the Atlantic Alliance and the West,” reads the first of 15 points in the election program Meloni agreed with her alliance partners Matteo Salvini (Lega) and Silvio Berlusconi (Forza Italia). She was “very prudent” and would “not ruin” the state finances, she gave her “full approval to the process of European integration,” she had never proposed an exit from the euro and would stay in line with the EU and NATO in the Ukraine war, Meloni stresses at every available opportunity. She has even released a trilingual video to reassure Italy’s NATO allies and international financial markets.

By contrast, Meloni’s fascist past, her admiration for “il Duce” Mussolini, the numerous neo-fascists and violent neo-Nazis in and around her party, and her connections to right-wing networks in the state apparatus are all benignly ignored—even secretly welcomed, since the representatives of the ruling class apparently believe they will be needed in future confrontations with the working class.

The only face-to-face debate that has taken place between the two most likely candidates for head of government is symptomatic of Meloni’s treatment. The newspaper Corriere della Sera invited Meloni and Enrico Letta, head of the social-democratic Partito Democratico, to a televised duel, which it broadcast live on its website.

Privately, the two like each other and are on first name terms. Letta refrained from making any sharp attacks and said not a word about the fascist past of Meloni and her party. While Meloni invoked the fascist slogan “God, Fatherland and Family,” Letta accused her of not backing the EU clearly enough and of disregarding gay rights. That was as far as his accusations went.

Meloni also received the indirect blessing of Mario Draghi, who continued as acting head of government following his resignation on July 21. “I am convinced that the next government, of whatever political hue it may be, will overcome the challenges of today, even though they seem insurmountable,” he said in a speech—which the Fratelli d’Italia celebrated as a political endorsement.

Not even on an electoral level are the so-called centre-left parties trying to prevent a Meloni victory. Although their programs differ only in nuances, they are running separately in the election. In addition to Letta’s Democrats, who have allied themselves with the pseudo-left Sinistra Italiana, the Greens and a European party, a “Third Pole” led by ex-government leader Matteo Renzi and ex-industry minister Carlo Calenda, as well as ex-government leader Giuseppe Conte’s Five Stars, are running for election.

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