Right-wing surge in Italian general elections

The right-wing Brothers of Italy (FdI) party, led by Giorgia Meloni, emerged as the single largest in the new Italian parliament as every other mainstream political party crumbled

September 28, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
General Elections - Italy
Election rally by Brothers of Italy. (Photo: via Facebook)

In the general election held to the 400-seat Chamber of Deputies and 200-seat Senate of the Italian parliament on September 25, the right-wing – with Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (FdI) at its fore – secured a massive victory. The elections saw a record low voter turnout of 63.9%. 

The right-wing FdI led by Meloni emerged as the single largest party in the parliament, winning 119 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 65 seats in the Senate, with 26% of the total vote. The center-left Democratic Party (PD), led by Enrico Letta, was confined to 69 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 40 seats in the Senate. Matteo Salvini’s right-wing League secured 66 and 30 seats in two houses, respectively. The right-wing Forza Italia (FI) led by Silvio Berlusconi got 45 and 18 seats. The populist Five Star Movement (M5S) led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was reduced to just 52 seats and 28 seats. The newly-formed liberal coalition Action-Italia Viva secured just 21 and nine seats, while the alliance of the Greens and the Italian Left (AVS) won 12 and four seats. Radical left-wing coalitions like the People’s Union (UP), Sovereign and Popular Italy, and the Italian Communist Party (PCI) were not able to make any headway.

A right-wing coalition government led by Meloni is likely to assume power in the country. Meloni’s party, which has its roots in the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, champions conservatism, nationalism and an opposition to immigration.

Following the 2018 general elections, three coalition governments came to power in Italy but failed to complete a full term. The last of these governments, which was led by Mario Draghi, collapsed in July, leading to fresh elections. Draghi’s government had come to power in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Its austerity-driven policies and failure to tackle the cost of living crisis triggered widespread protests from working class sections. 

The general disenchantment with the mainstream political parties in the country can be seen in the low voter turnout for this election. The fall of the populist M5S has been termed a blow to the liberal, anti-establishment, and populist politics that had seemed ascendant over the last decade. The left was not been able to present a convincing alternative to the neo-liberal political establishment at an electoral level even though it has been taking to the streets regularly.

Potere al Popolo, a constituent party of People’s Union, stated on September 25 that the results of the elections were not surprising. A victory for the right-wing was predicted long ago and was in the making as the fight for power and one-upmanship among the political elites led to fragmentation of the people’s mandate, ultimately helping the right-wing, it added.

Potere al Popolo also noted that a majority of those who didn’t vote were youths, students, and immigrant workers, who are disenchanted with politics that does not offer them any hope. “It is impossible to hope for a renewal of the country if we do not involve ourselves in these sectors,” the party said.

Maurizio Acerbo, national secretary of the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC), said in his statement that the heirs of Mussolini have come to power 100 years later, thanks especially to the political choices of the Democratic Party and its allies that have only worsened the living conditions of those who work or have no income.

He also said that his party, along with the People’s Union, will work hard to strengthen class politics on behalf of the common people, to attempt to resist the nationalist right-wing that will continue to protect the interests of the richest groups, support a horrible war, and guarantee Italian loyalty to NATO.