The elections in Italy proved the polls right, and the polls made the right very happy. Meloni will likely become Italy’s first female prime minister. Her coalition won 55-60 % of the seats in both houses. It is said that she’ll be the first Far Right prime minister since WWII.
I object to this description, since Mussolini cannot really be described as Far Right. But Meloni and her party have been described as Radical Right, which is subset of the Far Right in that just as the Far Right they’re extremely Right-wing, but unlike the Far Right, they’re not opposed to the constitutional democratic order. As such, Meloni will be the first Radical Right prime minister within the EU.
A larger trend
It has been wildly noted that this is part of a current trend where parties and candidates viewed as Radical Right, Far Right, Nationalist, Right-wing Populist and Eurosceptic parties have become bigger, more influential and more mainstream. The Sweden Democrats became the second largest party and will have a lot of influence on the new government, Front National, oh sorry, National Rally, grew greatly in France, and Vox has gone mainstream in Spain.
Fear of Russia has not increased support from mainstream pro-EU parties. Ironically Radical Right and Far Right politics have increased within various Catholic countries during the pontificate of Pope Francis. His platitudes about unconditionally accepting migrants found as little favor with the Italian voters as Von Der Leyen’s anti-democratic threats against Italy.
Pope Francis has either supported, indulged or at least shown sympathy towards so called Catholic ‘Leftism’ and its various internal contradictions: Liberation Theology, Socialism and Marxism for Latin America, Progressive and Social Liberalism as well as Inclusive Capitalism for the West; supporting the right of third world people to preserve their own culture, promoting multiculturalism in the West; defending ‘democracy’ from ‘populists’ within the EU, going easy on China and Russia.
On that last point however, Francis has recently diverged with the mainstream Left in the West. Francis has continued to act friend towards Xi even as Cardinal Zen is being tried in Hong Kong and Xi snubbed him in Kazakhstan. The Patriarch of Moscow snubbed him as well. Yet Francis (while belatedly acknowledging Ukraine’s right to self-defense and abandoning a childish hippie absolutist pacifism) still wants to reach out towards Russia even if Ukraine has to make unfair concessions. In this dubious endeavor he is ironically closest to the various Far Right or Hard Right politicians such as Meloni and Viktor Orbán, who follow after his arch-rival Archbishop Vigano.
But back to the resurgence of the Radical Right, which had largely been marginalized in the West since WWII based on (a mostly falsely asserted) association with Fascism and Nazism.
Fascism and Nazism, and as such neo-Fascism and neo-Nazism are actually two rather different things. Fascism was also not Nazism without racism and/or anti-Semitism. But that is a complex separate topic.
The Sweden Democrats did have a neo-Nazi current and one of its co-founders was an SS-veteran, while the Brothers of Italy do have neo-Fascist elements yet both these currents tend to be more Conservative than original Nazism and to an extent even Fascism. The parties themselves are overall National Conservative.
Most important however, Meloni is not a real Fascist. The term post-Fascist has been used to describe her and that seems more appropriate, but is still perhaps not entirely accurate. She can best be described as a Nationalist and a Conservative with a certain degree of Fascist sympathies.
Non-communist socialists have expressed admiration for figures like Che Guevara for example, therefore Meloni’s praise of Mussolini doesn’t make her a full adherent of Fascist ideology. She doesn’t seem to desire any form of dictatorship, paramilitary violence, semi-totalitarianism or to promote statist collectivism.
She does support a presidential system, that mixed with her irredentism will please real Fascists, but it does not make her one herself.
The recent victories do show a normalization of parties that used to flirt with or even still have some sympathies for Fascism. While the Sweden Democrats did more to moderate their image and to actively distance themselves from their radical roots, the Brothers of Italy did not find this necessary.
Just what is Far Right?
Honestly, Meloni rejecting the various labels her party has received and calling it mainstream Conservative is just mildly amusing considering the fact that she has not purged the party of Fascist sympathizers, and she did also praise the founder of the neo-Fascist Italian Social Movement (in which she and the co-founders of her party started their career).
This reminds me of Jair Bolsonaro claiming to be a normal Conservative, yet he has constantly praised Brazil’s military dictatorship and suggested it needs another (will he commit his self-coup soon?).
Vox in Spain claims to be regular Right-wing but said that generals and officers who praised Franco and spoke of a coup, were their people. Why is Vox called Radical Right and not Far Right when it defends and supports those who want to overthrow the constitutional democratic order?
Especially ironic, is that both Vox and Bolsonaro have been keen to point out that Nazism was Socialist and Leftist, yet while arguing that Nazism wasn’t Far Right, they refuse to be deemed Far Right anyways. In spite of the fact that they are Reactionary, ultra-nationalist and have flirted with anti-democratic ideas.
The current trend does show that the taboo regarding Fascism has worn out. Meloni as prime minister or Vox in Spain, have also been made possible by the Left crying wolf too much. The accusation of Fascist has lost all meaning.
The more immediate effect of this trend however, is a boost for Viktor Orbán in Hungary, as well as for Law and Justice in Poland.
The Eurosceptics have a strong ally in Italy and they will likely get one in Sweden as well. Sanctions against Hungary might just become more difficult to pull off.
The EU is under pressure. Unlimited immigration and Globalism are losing support fast. The Radical Right has been boosted by a lack of compromise and heavy-handedness from globalists. Orbán is likely to take full advantage.