Why Republicans are elated by ‘triumph’ of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni

The election victory of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni this week has been met with cheers from US Republicans, who are heaping praise on the right-wing European leader despite concerns that she heads a political party with neo-fascist roots.

The affinity for Meloni in the United States, experts say, is part of a deepening connection between conservative populists on both sides of the Atlantic, which was previously seen with Republican activists’ embrace of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Increasingly, right-wing nationalists around the world are finding common ground in a battle against shared foes: immigration, progressive views on gender and sexuality, and people they loosely label as “globalists” and “elites”.

And this is precisely the message that succeeded in getting Meloni elected, said Lawrence Rosenthal, chair of the Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Rosenthal said the “great replacement theory”, the notion that global elites are trying to replace “native” populations in Western countries with immigrants, is at the heart of the grievances that unite these right-wing movements.

The theory is seen by many academics and social justice advocates as a conspiratorial push to stoke racial anxiety about non-white newcomers to Western countries.

“All the nationalist movements in individual countries have the same ‘other’ – that is to say that they all agree that immigrants are ‘the other’, and that’s what they’re against,” Rosenthal said. “So it’s possible to have solidarity across international lines on that score, because the enemy object is the same in all of them.”

Meloni’s views

Meloni, 45, is poised to become Italy’s next prime minister after her political party, Brothers of Italy, emerged as the biggest winner in a right-wing coalition that received the most votes in the country’s snap elections on Sunday.

Brothers of Italy – founded in 2012 – is the ideological successor of the far-right National Alliance, which emerged from the Italian Social Movement, a political party formed by former dictator Benito Mussolini’s supporters in the wake of World War II.

Meloni has denied that her party is fascist and condemned the anti-Jewish laws and suppression of democracy of the fascist era. However, a video of a young Meloni when she was an activist with the National Alliance shows her praising Mussolini as a “good politician” who acted for Italy.

Brothers of Italy’s logo – flames in the colours of the Italian flag – also mirrors that of the Italian Social Movement.

Yet despite the criticism, numerous Republicans hailed Meloni’s electoral success this week, sharing a viral video of the Italian politician arguing that national identity and the concept of family are under attack in an effort to turn people into “the perfect consumer”.

“The entire world is beginning to understand that the Woke Left does nothing but destroy,” far-right Congresswoman Lauren Boebert wrote on Twitter, suggesting that Meloni’s victory was a positive sign ahead of US midterm elections in November.

Nov 8 is coming soon & the USA will fix our House and Senate! Let freedom reign!”

Senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also were among the Republican officials who expressed joy over Meloni’s win.

Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, one of the most influential right-wing commentators in the US, also lauded Meloni’s victory as a “revolution”, calling her “smart” and able to articulate what the majority of people are thinking.

Some experts say Meloni’s message about family, national identity and God has resonated with US conservatives because it is specifically tailored for them.

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