MILAN—As the polls predicted, Giorgia Meloni’s center-right coalition overwhelmingly won the election in Italy. By now, it has the numbers to form a stable government. If it follows democratic logic, Giorgia Meloni should be our next prime minister.
Her rise brings a downsized but still strong Salvini. Silvio Berlusconi will also contribute his small but relevant share of support. The great adventure now begins with the question: Will Meloni be able to transform a center-right opposition into a center-right government? The answer will depend on whether center-right strategists can look beyond the trifles of petty politics and see the big picture of the underlying situation. What is this situation?
In politics, it does not matter so much who the candidate is but what he (in this case, she) stands for. However appreciable Ms. Meloni’s talents may be, an analyst must be more interested in understanding what current of public opinion she is riding. These currents determine the path the country will take in the near future.
For years, a deep and mighty reaction—a mixture of a gut feeling, heart and brain—has been brooding in Italy against the turn of events. I have repeatedly written about this phenomenon. As early as 2001, I analyzed how Italians reacted to that year’s tragic events (the Twin Towers attack and Black Block guerrilla warfare in Genoa). I wrote: “We foresee the formation of two blocs separated by fissures much more pronounced in-depth than they appear on the surface. These fissures will certainly tend to expand over time.”1
Indeed, these fissures have grown. On the left is what we might call the “people of the Revolution,” who progress undaunted and increasingly swaggering, driven by strong powers and media. On the other side are those who oppose the leftist drift because of their traditions or convictions. They have gradually awakened, forming a bloc that seems to be consolidating and growing.
They are not—or at least not yet—counter-revolutionaries, properly speaking. They do not integrally react against the Revolution by aspiring to its opposite. Perhaps some are even tempted to carry out a “contrary revolution,” as De Maistre put it. Those who react are like people who, realizing the train of the Revolution is going too fast in a disturbing direction, have gotten off at the first station. They wonder if they should continue the journey. However (for now), they are not taking a return train but find relief by no longer being on the Revolution’s high-speed train.
I wrote in 2001: “Here is the big news: There appears to be a growing shift of a hitherto inert minority toward attitudes, if not of active opposition to the Revolution, at least of non-acceptance of its most extremist manifestations. How far will this shift go? It is one of the great unknowns of the immediate future.”
Today we can say this shift has become focused on reacting to a left that favors unrestrained immigration that clearly seeks to create a “multicultural” society that erases our Catholic, European and Italian identities. It focuses on reacting to a left that seeks to destroy the family as a natural institution and the basic cell of society. It focuses on reacting to a left that despises human life, killing it in the womb and in old age. It focuses on reacting to a left that wants to impose the LGBT agenda, including civil unions, “diversity” education in schools and so on. It focuses on reacting to a left that has brought us into the European Union and the euro, which have increasingly proven to be more of a cage than a trampoline. This left wants to remove religious symbols from public places in the name of a secular vision of our country. This left is destroying the very foundations of our economy in the name of radical environmentalism. The list could go on and on.
The shift also intensified as a reaction to a political class that has not allowed Italians to express themselves at the ballot box for many years, establishing itself as a “caste” with little or nothing to do with the country’s well-being.
Very indicative of this frustration were the 2018 elections, won by the two “anti-system” parties, the League and the M5S party, clearly indicating the trend of public opinion. All it took for the old system to regain control was yet another government crisis. Then, the system appointed Mario Draghi as president, supported by all political forces with the conspicuous exception of Giorgia Meloni. She is now reaping the fruits of that choice.
On this path, keeping the tiller almost always straight, the Brothers of Italy (FdI) Party leader found herself almost single-handedly representing the anti-revolutionary reaction. Her approval has exploded from 1.96 percent in 2013 to the current 26.2 percent, opening wide to her the doors to the prime minister’s Palazzo Chigi.
The analysts see the victory from this perspective of a reaction. To mention just two opinions, the French daily, Le Monde, warned its readers against a possible center-right victory, declaring that Meloni is dangerous “because she defends tradition, the family, and social values.”2 Il Riformista, an organ of Italy’s far left, has a similar view: “If Giorgia Meloni’s advisers were a little forewarned, they should know that ‘God, Homeland, Family,’ really jangles the ears of Pope Francis. This is because the motto is akin to that ‘Tradition, Family, Property’ group in Latin America, in the name of which massacres of defenseless peasants were carried out and whose only crime was not wanting to starve to death. The organization’s inventor, Plinio Corrêa, rallied traditionalist groups under this sign that Jorge Mario Bergoglio knows very well.”3
Never mind the crude and unfounded slander about supposed “massacres of defenseless peasants.” I only note that the left believes Giorgia Meloni represents the ideals of tradition, family and property. Is this really the case? I repeat that in politics, it does not matter who the candidate actually is but what they represent. However appreciable Meloni’s personal gifts may be, an analyst is more interested in understanding which current of public opinion she is riding and how she will lead it in the near future.
And here is the crux of the matter. Center-right strategists will have to ask many questions. The victors of the center-right have before them a choice that will shape the history of our country for many years. Will they know how to go beyond the trifles of petty politics? Will they understand that Italians have entrusted them not only with the task of governing but, more profoundly, with the historic mission of putting a brake, at least partially, on the Revolution? Will they know how to implement a government program that genuinely translates the yearnings of this growing reactive segment of public opinion into action?
Will they know, for example, how to defend moral values based on natural law and the Magisterium of the Church? Will they know how to protect our Christian and European identity? Will they know how to defend the family and innocent human life? Will they know how to protect our children and youth from LGBT propaganda in schools?
In short, will they know how to construct a real reaction to the left’s Cultural Revolution, to speak of it alone? In other words, will they put together a government that simply administers public affairs, perhaps with some cosmetic touch-ups, or one that puts forward fundamental ideas and values?
The government’s resilience will depend on the answer to these questions. Let me explain.
Giorgia Meloni has a conspicuous Achilles’ heel. According to polls, the FdI has a “structural vote” of just 19 percent, compared with a “personal vote” of around 81 percent. In other words, among FdI voters, 81% vote for Giorgia, while just 19% vote for the party’s program. A leader’s charisma comes and goes like feathers in the wind. What remains are ideas and values. Suppose the center-right bases its future government just on Meloni’s charisma. In that case, it risks finding itself back in opposition before long—especially since the center-left will always be able to count on a structural vote of around 74 percent.
On the contrary, to the extent that the center-right, fulfilling the mission entrusted to it by the Italian people, can propose a viable alternative to the Revolution, it will build a solid base that will enable it to weather the storms that will undoubtedly come. Thus, by growing and consolidating its voters over time, it will always be able to count on the support of this segment of public opinion that delivered the fine victory on Sunday, September 25.