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Critical challenges for Italy’s first woman premier

Leader of Italian far-right party "Fratelli d'Italia" (Brothers of Italy), Giorgia Meloni takes a selfie on October 1, 2022 during a visit to the "Villagio Coldiretti" in Milan, a three-day event orga
(File photo: AFP)
Leader of Italian far-right party "Fratelli d'Italia" (Brothers of Italy), Giorgia Meloni takes a selfie on October 1, 2022 during a visit to the "Villagio Coldiretti" in Milan, a three-day event orga

Amer Al-Sabaileh

The writer is a Jordanian university professor and a geopolitical expert. He is a leading columnist in national, regional, and international media, offers consultancies to think tanks and speaks at international conferences on Middle East politics and developments.

There has been much analysis of the outcome of the recent elections in Italy, which brought to power the first extreme right political party since World War II and the first woman prime minister, Giorgia Meloni. This may have happened at a time when the world is facing a critical escalation, between Russia, and the US, EU and NATO, but there has been a growing tendency, in Italy, toward right-wing politics in recent times. However, Fratelli d’Italia is hardly on the extreme right when it comes to NATO and EU; Meloni was careful to highlight her alignment with NATO and harmony with the US policy in the region.اضافة اعلان

Yet, the real challenge for her government, and for Italy, is not in foreign policy, but in the domestic challenge of having to deliver concrete results to a frustrated citizenry who are fed up with previous policies and approaches and the economic problems that are seen to be their result.

Meloni’s agenda will be driven by Italy’s interests, and while an element of populism is likely to be seen in her approach, the real impact will have to come from a reactivation of Italy’s foreign policy role, particularly in the Mediterranean, and in particular its policy vis-à-vis countries that are sources of gas, such as Libya.

It is still early to assess this government, but it might signal a shift in Italian politics, with, at the top of the political agenda, focus on Italian interests across the region.

While it is difficult for a new government facing internal economic difficulties and strategic security issues in Europe to exercise an active foreign policy, this one might take the opportunity to play a role in solving problems that affect Italy. It might play a stronger role in Libya, attempting to find a solution to its problems. The global energy crisis might make Italy give due consideration to energy security and use diplomacy to find solutions to its energy problems, based on mutual benefit and the potential to stabilize the Mediterranean.
Improving Italy’s engagement and capacity to take on a key role in foreign affairs to its benefit offers it the best chance to address some of its domestic issues.
It is important to look at this government from a realistic perspective, and not be fooled by slogans, particularly because of the ideological roots of the party in power. There is a real need to reinvent the role of politics in Italy, and focus on securing the country’s interests. Meloni herself highlighted this more than once during her campaign, as she did the need to be judged by actions and not by stories and media narrative.

There are also challenges in the conservative coalition that has formed to put Meloni in power, with critical differences including Meloni’s support for Ukraine, while her coalition partners are long-time supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Given Meloni’s clear electoral support, if she can solidify that support amongst other conservative voters, the next election could present an opportunity to form a single party government, which would completely reshape politics in Italy.

The challenges for Italy are diverse, and the domestic issues are inextricably linked to the state of global politics. Maintaining assurances to Brussels and the US is critical for this government. Solving some of the ongoing crises at Italy’s back door, in Libya, through diplomatic mediation has traditionally been a strength of Italian foreign policy; Meloni needs to return to that tradition.

Improving Italy’s engagement and capacity to take on a key role in foreign affairs to its benefit offers it the best chance to address some of its domestic issues.


Amer Al-Sabaileh is a Jordanian university professor and geopolitical expert. He is a leading columnist in national, regional, and international media, offers consultancies to think tanks and speaks at international conferences on Middle East politics and developments.


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