News ID: 325343
Published: 0344 GMT November 13, 2022

Scent of a Powerful Woman

Scent of a Powerful Woman

Saeed Azimi

Staff writer


The enigmatic character of Italy’s new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, her unusual support for Ukraine, and the whole right-wing turn in Italian politics in the broader context of the rise of the far-right in Europe have kept many wondering about the fate of Roma città aperta. To further examine the issue, we asked Cecilia Sala, an Italian journalist at Il Foglio, and a podcaster at Choro Media, to help us peel the mysterious onion of Italian version of doing politics.

Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the ride.

IRAN DAILY: Why did Italy choose a right-wing government?

CECILIA SALA: It is a trend that we have seen for some time as the party of Giorgia Meloni was the only one to have chosen to be in the opposition for a decade, including during the last government led by Mario Draghi, who was supported by all parties except that of Meloni.

The disappointment and the request for change meant that Meloni – the only one who could propose herself as a "unique character" compared to her competitors – catalyzed popular consensus. It is a phenomenon that we have seen in the past with other leaders, such as Matteo Salvini – an ally of Meloni – who gained support very quickly, but lost it as quickly. But Salvini had never reached the premiership, Meloni did, so she is [in] a stronger position.

An important factor that is worth noting is the fact that Meloni’s gaining consensus does not mean that the Draghi government had a lackluster performance. On the contrary, he finished his mandate with a very high approval rating. But, as with all technical governments – where a professor resides at the premiership and not a politician – the parties that supported him seemed weak and lost votes, thus, never managing to gain political consensus.


Is it somehow connected with the wider turn to right in many EU countries?

Meloni had long been preparing – since she began to grow rapidly in the polls – for the possibility of obtaining power as her political positions are more moderate than before on many issues ranging from economics to foreign policy. I believe that Meloni's allies in Spain, namely Vox, the party that still hints at Franco's fascist dictatorship, are far behind from this point of view.


What are the implications of Meloni’s rise to power for progressive causes, for example in regard to migrants or certain social rights?

Regarding civil rights, there is a concern, but no one thinks that Meloni can revise the law that allows abortion or civil unions. If there are any changes, they will be less noticeable than these.

Regarding migrants, Meloni proposed extreme solutions to prevent the disembarkation of migrants arriving from North Africa, but now that she is in power, yes, she may have clashes with other EU members on this issue but then, in fact, she cannot do anything more than respecting international law and the maritime laws and disembark migrants as everyone before her did, even far-right leader Matteo Salvini.


It seems to be a division between Meloni and her camp on the Ukraine war. Do you expect any radical change in Italy’s foreign policy in this regard?

I do not expect any change in Italian foreign policy on the war in Ukraine. Meloni was very clear on this. Her two allies – Salvini, who was a supporter of Putin and Berlusconi, who was a personal friend of Putin – are much weaker than her. She took three times the votes of each of them. Furthermore, Italy's international alliances are clear.


Iran and Italy have been longtime partners. How would Meloni’s election affect Tehran-Rome relations?

Yes, and I remember when your former president visited Italy, Gentiloni's center-left government was in charge then.

Many things have changed since then. The U.S. withdrew from the JCPOA with Trump, and it assassinated [Qassem] Soleimani. But when this war started, with the fact that in the United States there is now Biden who was proposing a return to the JCPOA and with the energy crisis in the EU, I believe a new window of opportunity was created for relations between Iran and the West, as it happened with Venezuela. Some sanctions have been lifted and the ships carrying Venezuelan oil have returned to sail to Europe. Iran is also a large country which is full of energy resources like Venezuela. But that window of opportunity is not closed.


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