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Germany voices anxiety over Italian right's win

September 26, 2022

Politicians across the ideological spectrum in Germany have expressed concern about Giorgia Meloni's electoral success. However, the far-right AfD voiced support for Meloni, who looks likely to be Italy's next leader.

Italien Politikerin Giorgia Meloni | mit Silvio Berlusconi und Matteo Salvini
Right-wing Italian figures Salvini, Meloni, and Berlusconi share some political ideals, but there are differences over RussiaImage: GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE/REUTERS

German politicians of differing political hues reacted with concern on Monday, with Georgia Meloni likely to become Italy's first far-right leader since World War II.

Meloni's Brothers of Italy — a successor parties to the MSI movement founded by former officials loyal to fascist leader Benito Mussolini — scooped a larger share of the vote that any other party in Sunday's election.

Katharina Barley, a vice president of the European Parliament and a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz's center-left Social Democrats (SPD), was concerned that Meloni would align herself with Hungary and Poland. Leaders of both countries have clashed with Brussels over the issue of rule of law, with Hungary keen to dilute sanctions against Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Barley said she was not fully reassured by an apparent softening of Meloni's euroskeptic stance.

"I'm not convinced yet. Of course, if she becomes prime minister, she will have the benefit of the doubt," Barley said. 

A graph showing the center-right bloc holding 235 out of 400 seaths in the lower house of Italy's parliament
The vote provided the bloc lead by Giorgia Meloni with a clear majority

"The EU can only work if you try to apply common solutions that fit everyone," she added. "That means compromise. Our experiences with this sort of government is that they do not engage in compromises at all."

Junior coalition members fearful

Members of the SPD's two junior coalition partners also said they were anxious about the likelihood of Meloni coming to power.

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, of the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP), echoed the sentiment that decision-making processes at the EU level could be made more difficult.

"It is becoming more and more laborious," Lambsdorff told the German public broadcaster ARD on Monday, referring to the issues of migration, financial reform and the internal market.

Omid Nouripour, the co-leader of the environmentalist Greens, Germany's other junior coalition partner, described the election results as "worrying."

He said it was well known that there are "very close ties with the Kremlin" within the right-wing alliance.

The leaders of the other two parties within the alliance, Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, have previously sought a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Salvini's League has called for a weakening of Western sanctions against Russia, and Berlusconi has long been friends with the Kremlin leader. 

Meloni has said she is steadfast in her support for Ukraine and strongly supports the European Union's sanctions.

'Openly post-fascist statements'

On the opposition seats in parliament, the Christian Democrat lawmaker and foreign policy expert Jürgen Hardt said he was troubled by Meloni's "openly post-fascist statements."

"Racism and the exclusion of minorities can no longer have a place in Europe," Hardt told German news agency dpa. 

"In Germany and Brussels, the new Italian government will be judged on its contribution to the future of Europe, compliance with the sanctions against Russia and progress in rebuilding the Italian economy," Hardt said.

Members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) were jubilant at Meloni's election success.

 "We celebrate with Italy!" AfD lawmaker Beatrix von Storch tweeted. "Sweden in the north, Italy in the south: left-wing governments are yesterday's news," she wrote, referring to the success of right-wing populist Sweden Democrats in elections earlier this month.

rc/wd (dpa, Reuters)

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