Assist. Prof. Andreja Pegan on the outcome of the elections in neighboring Italy

The Brothers of Italy under the leadership of Giorgia Meloni won the greatest share of the votes (26 %) at the Italian general elections. Compared to the 2018 general election, the parliamentary seats of the Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d'Italia) increased fourfold in both the lower and upper chambers of the Italian Parliament.

Two strategic factors contributed to this win.

Meloni’s party was the only opposition party in Draghi’s national unity government that formed in 2021 after the Five Star Movement could no longer hold Conte’s government together. Italians have once again proved that they like change indeed. However, the preference for change might also be the (start of the) end of the Brothers of Italy coming next election. The Five Star Movement, for instance, won more than 30 % of votes in 2018 but only received half of that on Sunday. 

A second factor is related to Meloni’s communication skills. During her time in the opposition and electoral campaign appearances, she has been eloquent, clear, and consistent about her nationalist ideology of putting “Italy first”. Her communication mastery included skilfully navigating accusations that the Brother of Italy is a fascist party never clearly repudiating fascism. ‘Mussolini wanted what is best for Italy,’ she often claimed, omitting that ‘the best for Italy’ implied the suffering, injustice, and death for millions of Jews, communists, and other individuals and groups considered ‘anti-system’ (Italian and non-Italian).

Much has been written and talked about the fascist roots of the Brother of Italy stemming from the now defunct National League (merged with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia). The fascist's legacy has further evolved with anti-immigration and LGBTQ rhetoric that situates the Brothers of Italy alongside Trump’s Republic Party and other conservative right-wing party leaders in Europe such as Victor Orban.

With Meloni as the new PM, Italy is set to lose the political influence in Europe that it gained under Mario Draghi. With strong leadership credentials and respect among European leaders, Draghi was able to create a high profile for Italy alongside the ‘Franco-German duo’ in shaping Europe’s response to crisis after crisis.  Meloni does not match Draghi’s leadership acumen. Given her nationalist credentials, it is natural that the EU is skeptical about her resolutions to strengthen Europe.

Unlike her fellow right-wing party leaders, Matteo Salvini of the Lega and Berlusconi of Forza Italia, Meloni has been unequivocal in her condemnation of Russia’s war against Ukraine. However, with the increasing cost of energy for households and businesses, many observers are suspicious about whether she will remain aligned with the European-wide position that there is no longer any place for Russian gas and oil on the European market.

Many unknown variables will determine the course of action to take for Meloni. She will need to be pragmatic. On the one hand, her policy choices might surprise me in more than one way. On the other hand, with political instability a permanent feature of the Italian system,  the government might not last for more than half of its mandate, making it difficult for Meloni to create a long-lasting legacy (unless she wins again).

Andreja Pegan (PhD) is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Management of the University of Primorska. Prior to joining the University of Primorska, she worked for the University of Ljubljana, Northumbria University at Newcastle (UK), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) and the University of Luxembourg. She was a visiting fellow at the European Policies Research Centre of the University of Strathclyde (Scotland) and the ARENA Centre for European Studies of the University of Oslo (Norway). Andreja’s educational background includes a PhD in Political Science (University of Luxembourg), an MA in European Union Studies (Leiden University), and a BA in Political Science (University of Ljubljana). She has researched public governance reforms towards co-creation within the Horizon 2020 project COGOV ( and the impact of regional policy on European identity in the Horizon 2020 project COHESIFY ( She is Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK. Assist. Prof. Andreja Pegan is an outstanding lecturer in the second cycle Master's degree programme Political Science - International Relations and Economic Diplomacy at the UP Faculty of Management conducted entirely in English.


Friday, September 30, 2022 | FM | Education

Social Media