Giorgia Meloni Takes Personal Approach in EU Election Votes

Italians will begin voting on Saturday afternoon, marking the third of four days of European elections where citizens from 27 countries will select members of the next EU Parliament. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is aiming to strengthen her political influence in Italy and has encouraged voters to simply “write Giorgia” on their ballots.

Most EU countries are set to vote on Sunday, following several tumultuous weeks that have seen two European leaders and multiple politicians subjected to physical attacks.

On Friday evening, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was assaulted on a Copenhagen street, just two days before the Danish election. Leaders across Europe have expressed their shock at this latest attack, which comes amidst elections involving up to 373 million European voters.

Last month, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico survived an assassination attempt and has only recently been discharged from the hospital. Several German political figures have also faced threats and attacks.

Although these elections are not intended to impact national politics, the reality is often different, especially in Italy. Ms. Meloni, who leads the far-right Brothers of Italy (FdI), became prime minister in 2022 and has uniquely placed her name at the top of her party’s ballot, despite not planning to take a seat in the European Parliament.

Since her appointment as prime minister, Giorgia Meloni has maintained steady poll ratings, benefiting from a fragmented centrist and left-wing opposition and the gradual decline of her junior coalition partner, Matteo Salvini’s once-dominant populist League party, whose voters are increasingly gravitating towards FdI. In an attempt to counter this trend, Mr. Salvini has pushed his party’s rhetoric further to the right.

The League’s electoral posters, which criticize various EU-backed initiatives—from electric cars to tethered caps on plastic bottles—have garnered both ridicule and significant attention.

Antonio Masiello/Getty Images Roberto Vannacci, Lega party candidate for the upcoming European elections and Italian Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Matteo Salvini attend a political meeting organised by Lega political party for the upcoming European elections, at Piazza Santi Apostoli, on June 6, 2024 in Rome, Italy
Matteo Salvini’s rhetoric has been matched by his lead candidate, army general Roberto Vannacci

Matteo Salvini’s lead candidate, Roberto Vannacci, has been a polarizing figure. The army general was dismissed after self-publishing a book containing homophobic and racist views. Since joining the League as a candidate, he has reiterated these controversial positions.

Roberto Vannacci’s statements receive daily media coverage, potentially translating into votes for the League. However, if this support doesn’t materialize, Salvini could face increased scrutiny and challenges to his leadership.

Similarly, the left-wing Democratic Party (PD) and its leader, Elly Schlein, are under pressure. Schlein aims to match the 19% vote share the party achieved in the 2019 elections to maintain her leadership position.

On the further left, attention is on Ilaria Salis, an antifascist activist detained in Hungary since 2023 on charges of participating in an assault on three far-right militants and being part of a criminal association. She is now running on the Left/Greens platform.

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