Preliminary Election Results
Exit polls and projections are not yet confirmed, however, the numbers provided show that the right-wing coalition managed to amass over 44.4 per cent of the total votes in the two houses of parliament. According to preliminary results from 96 per cent of polling places, Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (FdI) got 26.3 per cent of the senate votes, while the anti-immigration League party managed 9 per cent and the former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia took 8.3 per cent of the votes.
Even if the numbers are preliminary, according to Meloni it is obvious that Italians prefer a government led by her party.
Meloni was met with applause at the five-star hotel where FdI election celebrations were taking place and started singing along to a pop song on stage before joking that ‘we shall sing afterwards.’ According to Italian commentators, she delivered a ‘very moderate’ victory speech. She said the election night had been ‘a night of pride, a night of atonement, a night of tears, hugs, dreams, and memories. This evening demonstrates the viability of bets that seem unachievable.’
FdI Set to Form Strong Government
The alliance lead by Meloni can govern in a far more solid fashion than its predecessor, with roughly 44 per cent of the vote and a majority of at least 15 senators in Italy’s upper chamber. Analysts have pointed out that while a score of 46 to 47 per cent could have given the right-wing alliance 90 per cent of the first-past-the-post seats and the two-thirds super-majority needed to rewrite the constitution without a referendum, a result of 42 per cent would have given them only a tenuous majority. It needs to be added though that turnout was only 64 per cent, down from 73 per cent in the previous election in 2018. The outcome looks to corroborate Meloni’s astounding rise after her party received just 4 per cent of the vote four years ago. Meloni has been the leader of FdI since establishing it ten years ago, and as the only parliamentary party that chose to stay out of the Draghi coalition government, the party has avoided any potential negative associations with prior administrations, which has contributed to her success.
Before the elections, Meloni had repeatedly highlighted that she is proud of her status as an outsider. Her working-class extraction and single mother status made her stand out even in the colourful and diverse European landscape. In the past year she looked into recasting her party, Brothers of Italy as a conservative group to appeal to more sophisticated voters. She has expressed agreement with the position of NATO and the US regarding the Ukraine war, and she refused to support the unrealistic promises made by her allies concerning pensions and taxes. Despite the vicious attacks by the left-liberal mainstream media in Italy and abroad that Hungarian Conservative also commented on in a pre-election article, Giorgia Meloni has clearly convinced the majority of the Italians that she is no extremist.
Her advances over the past two weeks are probably also attributable to the bandwagon effect, in which people choose to support the victor. Since Mario Draghi’s cabinet fell in July, the right-wing alliance has been leading the polls, but the amount of their lead was ambiguous due to a ban on voting intention surveys during the final two weeks before the election.
Following the formal announcement of the results, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy will begin discussions with the parties to see whether the candidate for premiership of the right can lead a majority in parliament. According to the right-wing alliance’s internal agreement, the prime minister candidate will be nominated by the party receiving the most votes. The next government may not take office for several weeks due to the unavoidable horse-trading over cabinet positions.
Last year, the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán congratulated Meloni on being elected president of the European Conservatives and Reformers in the European Parliament. In his letter, the Hungarian PM said that he would be glad and willing to cooperate with Brothers of Italy. Meloni thanked Orbán for the support in a Facebook post, in which she said ‘Let us work together for a Europe that is capable of defending her identity and of facing the challenges of the future!’
In the letter, Orbán claimed that after sixteen years in the opposition, he had discovered that winning was ‘never final’ and losing was ‘never fatal.’ The only thing that matters is whether we are prepared to continue the battle, he continued. Having ‘trusted comrades in war who share a common perspective of the world and deliver similar reactions to the difficulties of our times,’ according to him, is essential. ‘We will be able to sustain our good connections based on the policy of common sense as well as on Christian and conservative values,’ Orbán said, voicing hope for a future of collaboration between Brothers of Italy and Hungary’s ruling Fidesz.
Orbán and Meloni met on several occasions prior to the elections. A gathering of FdI was held in Rome in September 2019, where Orbán was an invited speaker. Meloni also met with Orbán during the Italian parliamentary election campaign of 2018.
Viktor Orbán, accompanied by Katalin Novák, then minister in charge of family affairs and deputy chair of Fidesz, also held talks with Giorgia Meloni in June 2021 in Brussels. The PM’s press chief said that the parties discussed European political issues and talked about committing to the joining of forces of the right-wing parties of Europe. Right-wing parties ought to firmly represent ‘the many millions of European citizens who believe in the traditional family model, a European community founded on strong nation states, as well as the continent’s common cultural and religious origins,’ the statement issued after the meeting highlighted.
After the preliminary results were made public last night, Viktor Orbán congratulated Meloni on his social media. He shared a picture of the two of them, adding: ‘Victory was more than deserved, congratulations!’
Balázs Orbán, the political director of the prime minister also shared his thoughts on Meloni’s victory on his Facebook page. He wrote: ‘In tough times, we need trustworthy allies with the same views and answers to the challenges Europe faces. For this reason, it is very important that in one of the EU’s founding states patriots can form a government with whom we can rely on each other. Congratulations!’