Italy’s PM Meloni comes out on top in EU vote

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s arch-conservative Brothers of Italy group won the most votes in the European parliamentary election over the weekend, results showed, boosting her standing both at home and abroad.

With 96% of the ballots counted, Brothers of Italy won 28.8%of the vote, more than four times what it took in the last EU election in 2019 and exceeding the 26% it secured in the 2022 national ballot, when it rose to power.

“I am proud that Italy will present itself to the G7, to Europe with the strongest government of all. This is something that has not happened in the past but is happening today, it is a satisfaction and also a great responsibility,” Meloni said early on Monday from the party’s headquarters.

The opposition centre-left Democratic Party came in second with 24%, while another opposition group, the 5-Star Movement, was third with 9.9% of the vote — its worst showing at a countrywide level since its creation in 2009.

The EU ballot indicated that Meloni’s ruling coalition, made up of parties that stretch from the centre-right to the far-right of the political spectrum, had seen its support edge up to more than 47% from just under 43% in 2022.

“I am proud that the majority governing this nation has been able to grow together. This is an extremely important thing for me and for us. The message from Italians is: ‘Go ahead’.. and if possible with greater determination,” Meloni said.

Forza Italia, founded by the late Silvio Berlusconi, was in fourth place with 9.7%, surpassing the anti-immigrant League, which had 9.1% of the vote, pressuring leader Matteo Salvini who has pushed his party hard right, antagonising its old guard.

Underscoring tensions in the League, party founder Umberto Bossi voted Forza Italia this time around, his allies told Italian media at the weekend, sending a jolt through the group.

Meloni’s party traces its roots back to a neo-fascist group and her 2022 victory set the tone for far-right gains across Europe, including in this latest EU ballot, which has seen the continent swing right.
However, Meloni has moderated her image on the international stage, dropping her previous anti-EU rhetoric and presenting herself as a bridge between the mainstream centre-right and her own national conservative camp, which was previously shunned.
Her strong showing on Sunday came in stark contrast to setbacks suffered by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose parties were both routed.