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Fri. May 17th, 2024

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced on Sunday her candidacy for the upcoming European Parliament elections, a move likely designed to boost her far-right party, Brothers of Italy. The announcement raises questions about her future in national politics, as EU rules require that winners holding ministerial positions must resign from their national posts.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which has roots in Italy’s neo-Fascist history, was victorious in Italy’s 2022 general election, garnering 26% of the vote. With the European Parliament elections approaching, Meloni’s party is polling at similar levels, suggesting a strong showing. However, the EU’s rules for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) create a potential obstacle, as elected officials must step down from their ministerial roles if they win a seat in the EU assembly.

During her announcement in Pescara, Meloni declared her intention to replicate her success at the European level, aiming to unite the right and diminish the left’s influence in the European Parliament. In her characteristic fiery style, she outlined the achievements of her coalition government, such as combating illegal immigration and defending Christian values, while also touching on controversial topics like surrogacy and artificial meat.

Despite Meloni’s assertions that her candidacy represents a pragmatic step to gauge public opinion, critics argue that it is a calculated political move. Wolfango Piccoli, head of research at Teneo Intelligence, described the announcement as a “shameless electoral calculation,” suggesting that Meloni’s presence on the candidate list could increase Brothers of Italy’s vote share by two to three percent. This strategy has been used before, notably by Meloni’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, in 2019, with the understanding that most voters are unaware or indifferent to the incompatibility rules.

Meloni’s candidacy also underscores the internal competition within Italy’s ruling coalition. Since EU Parliament elections do not allow for party alliances within Italy, Brothers of Italy will face off against its coalition partners, Lega and Forza Italia. Both of these parties are polling significantly lower than Meloni’s, with Lega at about seven percent and Forza Italia at eight percent. Meloni’s popularity and staunch conservatism are seen as assets that could strengthen her party’s position in the European Parliament.

Ultimately, Meloni’s announcement is seen as a test of her influence and ambition within both Italian and European politics. While her candidacy could elevate Brothers of Italy in the EU Parliament, it could also lead to her resignation from her current position as Prime Minister, presenting a complex scenario for Italy’s political landscape.

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