Europe’s right wing is cheering Giorgia Meloni’s projected win in Italy’s election. Everyone else is looking anxiously at what happens next.
Meloni is set to lead Italy’s most right-wing government since Benito Mussolini after the coalition led by her Brothers of Italy party won around 44 percent of the vote on Sunday.
On Monday morning, top European politicians began to react to Italy’s seismic result.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne didn’t comment directly, but underlined the importance of European governments respecting democratic values, in remarks that could aggravate the new leadership in Rome.
Speaking on French radio, Borne said: “What the president of the Commission is saying is that in Europe, we have a certain number of values and that, obviously, we will be attentive […] to the fact that these values on human rights, on the respect of others, notably the respect of the right to abortion, are respected by all.”
She added that von der Leyen was “in her right” to recall that “in Europe, we have values. Each state must be in line with these values, on the rule of law, on human rights, on the respect of the right to abortion.”
Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares, from the Socialist party, took a stronger approach, and said that “populism always ends in catastrophe.”
“It is a moment of uncertainty and in moments of uncertainty, populisms always acquire importance and always end in the same way: in catastrophe,” he told the Spanish press.
Balázs Orbán, a close aide to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, tweeted his congratulations to Meloni, Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, whose parties are set to form a right-wing alliance at the top of Italy’s government: “In these difficult times, we need more than ever friends who share a common vision and approach to Europe’s challenges.”
The remarks come after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned against Italy’s potential rightward turn last week, saying that the EU would be ready to work with democratic governments, and had tools it could use should “things go in a difficult direction,” as in Hungary and Poland. This was a clear reference to the Commission’s ability to cut funds allocated to EU governments when they are deemed to be violating rule-of-law principles.
On Monday, Eric Mamer, the Commission’s chief spokesman, said that he “never comments on national election results.” He added : “We hope we’ll have a constructive cooperation with new Italian authorities.”
French far-right politicians Eric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen, both beaten contenders in last spring’s presidential election, cheered Meloni’s victory, praising the decision of the Italian people.
Zemmour highlighted Sweden’s election from last week, where right-wing parties emerged victorious: “From Sweden to Italy, we have been experiencing in recent weeks the second union of the victorious right in Europe, the cement of which is indeed the question of identity.”
In Spain, the far-right party Vox concluded that Meloni’s victory showed “the path of a new Europe of free and sovereign nations.”
Elena Giordano contributed reporting. This article was updated.