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She could become Italy's first female leader -- and its first far-right one since Mussolini

Tom Kington and Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

She has pledged to cut taxes and this week said she would put a cap on gas prices, saying she was ready to govern and planned to keep her right-wing coalition together despite some differences. She has attempted to moderate her positions to become more palatable to a broader Italian electorate — though she often switches back to more radical positions.

“For the last decade the left has managed to stay in power ... not by winning election ... but through under-the-table deals,” she said in a video recorded in Italian, English and French to respond to those who would call her a threat to democracy, a narrative, she said, promoted by the left.

Supporters describe her as charismatic and sensible.

“She’s coherent, pragmatic and decisive with a real character,” said Daniela Romano, 62, an insurance company manager. “I really hope she becomes Italy’s first female prime minister.”

Another of the estimated 2,000 guests at the dinner, Claudia Capecchiacci, who works for a leather goods company, agreed.

“She is believable and one of the few politicians not to have formed alliances,” said Capecchiacci, 36. “That makes a difference.”

 

The elections on Sunday were put in motion when the government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi collapsed in July after several parties, including Meloni’s, refused to back his coalition in a confidence vote. Rising inflation and similar crises fueled discontent with Draghi’s administration.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party is a descendant of the neofascist Italian Social Movement, which was formed by Mussolini supporters in the 1940s, not long after he was deposed and later assassinated as World War II was ending. Mussolini had aligned Italy with Nazi Germany.

Meloni has joined forces with the far-right League and center-right Forza Italia, which is led by the 85-year-old flamboyant former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

Her supporters said Meloni was a sure bet to be prime minister after a decade in which Italy has either been run by technocrats or compromise candidates after elections produced no clear winner.

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