100 days Meloni: “dangerous” PM Italy more moderate than feared

100 days Meloni: “dangerous” PM Italy more moderate than feared

When Giorgia Meloni won the Italian elections last September, it was perceived as a political landslide inside and outside the country. She is not only Italy’s first female prime minister, but also the first radical right-winger since World War II. Prime Minister for 100 days now – time for first evaluation.

During the election campaign, Meloni introduced herself as Christian, conservative and anti-immigrant. He also spoke out against exaggerated European cooperation. German weekly Stern, Linkshänderin, on its cover portrayed her as “Europe’s most dangerous woman”.

But what is left of this ghost? For the first few months of his tenure, Meloni appeared to be a pragmatic prime minister who was quite willing to compromise. The extreme concerns of progressive Europe have so far proved unfounded.

European cooperation

“The party is over,” Meloni said in her campaign on European cooperation. He promised his constituents that Italy would be more involved in European decision-making, and was vocal against broad Brussels interference. European Commission President von der Leyen expressed concern that the Italian government has the “resources” to intervene if it takes measures to undermine democracy.

However, the tension that hung in the air throughout the election campaign quickly dissipated. His first trip abroad was to Brussels; By doing this, he showed that he was quite willing to cooperate.

This benevolence was also evident in the preparation of the 2023 budget. The European Commission has warned that Italy’s plan to deny merchants debit card payments of up to 60 euros will encourage tax evasion. The Prime Minister shelved it without much objection.

Meloni’s attitude is above all pragmatic. Italy’s national debt is exceptionally high, at around 145 percent of its gross domestic product. The country is heavily dependent on European funds to run the projects.

Most notably, the Corona reconstruction fund, from which Rome can receive loans and grants totaling approximately 190 billion euros. The money will only be released if the government sticks to the reform plans of Meloni’s predecessor, Mario Draghi. Economically, Meloni therefore has relatively little leeway.

New agreements on immigration

Where he hopes to leave his mark on immigration. Last year, more than 100,000 migrants reached Italy by sea alone. The Prime Minister wants this number to drop as soon as possible. Your government has passed a new law that makes it harder for charities to rescue large groups of immigrants. But this is mostly symbolic politics. In addition, Meloni hopes for agreements with North African countries, especially to prevent migrants from leaving there.

But the reality is that Italy is also heavily dependent on the EU in this area. Not only for deals with North Africa, but also for receiving people reaching Europe.

Italy takes many people, but actually wants new agreements on the distribution of immigrants. Other member states, such as the Netherlands, want to better align with existing agreements.

stagnant economy

100 days later, according to polls, Meloni is still on her “political honeymoon”: her popularity has increased slightly since her election in September, reaching nearly 30 percent. Women’s magazines praise her long bob haircut and her understated yet elegant dressing style.

But as the year progresses, things get tougher for Italy’s first female prime minister. Italy’s statistics office predicts the economy will grow by 0.4 percent this year, compared to almost 4 percent last year. Meloni recently decided, for budgetary reasons, to restore the excise duty on gasoline, which has been reduced since March last year. It earned him his first major storm of criticism – and it won’t be the last.

Salvini and Berlusconi

The real question is whether the Meloni government can withstand further criticism. For now, coalition partners Fratelli d’Italia, Forza Italia and Lega manage to combat internal controversy without smearing it in the media. It shows that Meloni has the government team half in check for now. But the more popular the prime minister remains, the less likely powerful figures such as Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi will remain in the background for much longer.

For now, all three parties insist they want to complete the entire planned government term together to give time to implement the reforms. “We aim for exactly five years,” Meloni said at a press conference this month. This would also be the first time since the Second World War.

Want to know more about Giorgia Meloni as a person? Ahead of last year’s Italian election, we shot this explanatory video about them:

Source: NOS