The Meloni Precedent

27 June 2024

In its successful effort to de-demonize itself, the RN has certainly benefited from the comparison with Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia in Italy. Like the RN, the FdI is a party with fascist roots going back to WW II, but under Meloni it has sought to project a more moderate image of itself. Since coming to power, Meloni’s policies have, with a few significant exceptions, not been radical or notably repressive. Though she criticized the EU in the past, she has mostly been cooperative since taking office and in particular as supported the EU’s efforts in Ukraine, despite opposition from her coalition partner, Matteo Salvini’s Lega. So, the argument goes, isn’t the RN likely to follow a similar path in the hope of solidifying the allegiance of recent adherents in order to ensure that it wins the presidency in 2027?

Perhaps. But if the Meloni precedent is taken seriously, there is reason for alarm. Having consolidated her power (despite a recent setback in municipal elections), Meloni is now pressing her advantage to seek a constitutional amendment that would give whoever is elected premier nearly absolute power. Under the plan, which has already been approved on first reading by the Italian senate, the premier would be elected directly by a majority of voters and then granted a (still unspecified) bonus of seats to ensure an absolute majority in the legislature, which would be elected simultaneously. Thus the premier’s power would be unchecked. If Meloni succeeds in this transformation of the Italian constitution, how long will it take Le Pen to follow suit?

The Meloni precedent should therefore not be taken as reassurance that the far right has domesticated itself.


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