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Italy PM Meloni says she’ll stand in EU elections, in apparent move to boost far right

WorldItaly PM Meloni says she’ll stand in EU elections, in apparent move to boost far right

With Meloni heading the list of candidates, Brothers of Italy could exploit its national popularity at the EU level, even though EU rules require that any winner already holding a ministerial position must immediately resign from the EU assembly.

“We want to do in Europe exactly what we did in Italy on September 25, 2022 – creating a majority that brings together the forces of the right to finally send the left into opposition, even in Europe!” Meloni told a party event in the Adriatic city of Pescara.

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In a fiery, sweeping speech touching briefly on issues from surrogacy and Ramadan to artificial meat, Meloni extolled her coalition government’s one-and-a-half years in power and what she said were its efforts to combat illegal immigration, protect families and defend Christian values.

After speaking for more than an hour in the combative tone reminiscent of her election campaigns, Meloni said she had decided to run for a seat in the European Parliament.

“I’m doing it because I want to ask Italians if they are satisfied with the work we are doing in Italy and that we’re doing in Europe,” she said, suggesting that only she could unite Europe’s conservatives.

“I’m doing it because in addition to being president of Brothers of Italy I’m also the leader of the European conservatives who want to have a decisive role in changing the course of European politics,” she added.

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In her rise to power, Meloni, as head of Brothers of Italy, often railed against the European Union, “LGBT lobbies” and what she has called the politically correct rhetoric of the left, appealing to many voters with her straight talk.

“I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am a Christian” she famously declared at a 2019 rally.

She used a similar tone on Sunday, instructing voters to simply write “Giorgia” on their ballots.

“I have always been, I am, and will always be proud of being an ordinary person,” she shouted.

EU rules require that “newly elected MEP credentials undergo verification to ascertain that they do not hold an office that is incompatible with being a Member of the European Parliament”, including being a government minister.

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The strategy has been used before, most recently in Italy in 2019 by Meloni’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, who leads the far-right Lega party.

The EU Parliament elections do not provide for alliances within Italy’s parties, meaning that Brothers of Italy will be in direct competition with its coalition partners Lega and Forza Italia, founded by Silvio Berlusconi.

The Lega and Forza Italia are polling at about seven per cent and eight per cent, respectively.

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Elsewhere on Sunday, dozens of people in Italy raised their arms in the fascist salute and shouted a fascist chant during ceremonies to honour Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on the 79th anniversary of his execution.

Dressed in black, the neo-fascist supporters marched through northern Italian towns where Mussolini was arrested and executed at the end of World War II, and also in Predappio, Mussolini’s birthplace and final resting place.

Mussolini was stopped by anti-fascist partisans in Dongo, on the shores of Lake Como, on April 27, 1945, as he tried to escape with his lover, Clara Petacci, following the Allied liberation of Italy.

On Sunday, a group of neo-fascists marched through Dongo and placed 15 roses in the lake in memory of the ministers and officials from the Mussolini government who were killed there, according to video of the event by LaPresse news agency.

Members of far-right groups attend a ceremony in Italy on Sunday where a group of fascists were executed in 1945. Photo: AFP

The partisans executed Mussolini and Petacci the following day in the nearby lakeside town of Mezzegra-Giulino, where commemorations were also held on Sunday.

The leader of the commemorations shouted “Camerade Benito Mussolini” and the crowd responded with a strong-armed fascist salute and chant of “present”.

Several police trucks separated the demonstrators in Dongo from hundreds of protesters who sang the famous partisan song Bella Ciao during the ceremony.

Meloni has tried to distance her party from its neo-fascist roots. She has condemned fascism’s suppression of democracy and insisted that the Italian right handed fascism over to history decades ago. On Sunday, Meloni accused the left of being more of a totalitarian threat to Italy today.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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