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Italy’s PM Meloni Comes Out Stronger From EU Election

Published: June 11, 2024
(Image: Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speaks following the announcement of the partial results of the European Parliament elections, in Rome, Italy, June 10, 2024 REUTERS/Alberto Lingria)

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, with her conservative Brothers of Italy party, won the most votes in the European parliamentary election over the weekend, boosting her standing both at home and abroad.

Brothers of Italy won 28.8 percent of the vote, more than four times what it took in the last European Union election in 2019, and exceeding the 26 percent it secured in the 2022 national ballot, when it rose to power.

Meloni said early on Monday, June 10, from the party’s headquarters: “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.” 

The opposition center-left Democratic Party came in second with 24 percent of the vote, while the 5-Star Movement, was third with 9.9 percent, its worst result 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 center-right to the far right of the political spectrum, saw its support climb to more than 47 percent from just under 43 percent in 2022.

Meloni said later in the morning on RTL 102.5 Radio: “It’s a spur for (the government) to move forward. Italians are giving us a loud and clear message to go ahead with our work … and if possible with greater determination.”

Forza Italia, founded by the late Silvio Berlusconi, was in fourth place with 9.7 percent of the vote, surpassing the anti-immigrant Lega, which had 9.1 percent. 

It was a disappointment for leader Matteo Salvini, who has pushed his party hard right, antagonizing its old guard and founder Umberto Bossi.

Meloni’s 2022 victory provided a boost to right-wing parties across Europe. 

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 center-right and her own national conservative camp, which was previously shunned.

Her strong winning came in stark contrast to recent setbacks suffered by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose parties were routed.

Speaking on radio, Meloni said, however, it was still too early to say whether she would back a second term for center-right European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Her group of lawmakers might prove decisive should Meloni decide to back von der Leyen, potentially giving Rome leverage over the new EU executive.

This election turnout also represented a big success for Meloni’s main opponent, Elly Schlein, who took charge of the center-left PD party in 2023 and had struggled to impose her will on the old guard. 

The PD won 19 percent of the vote in 2022 and Schlein was anxious to improve that previous result.

The hard left Green and Left Alliance won around 6.7 percent, meaning that its candidate, Ilaria Salis is now an EU lawmaker. 

Salis is an Italian leftist activist detained in Hungary for more than a year for allegedly assaulting far-right militants.

The turnout was just below 50 percent, initial data suggested, a record low in a country that has had historically strong voter participation. 

Reuters contributed to this report.