Italy's Premier Meloni gets domestic, European boost from EU election win

ROME — (AP) — Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party won European elections in Italy with a strong 28% of the votes, boosting her leadership at home and consolidating her kingmaker role in Europe.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party confirmed its status as the country’s most popular party, even improving its performance from the 26% it won in the 2022 general elections, according to projections by state broadcaster RAI based on almost 70% of votes counted.

The victory in Italy's voting for European Parliament representatives provides a boost for Meloni, after almost two years in power, mainly at the expense of her governing partners in Rome.

In particular, Matteo Salvini’s hard-right League emerged as one of the biggest losers in the EU vote. After finishing first in the 2019 EU election, with more than 34% of the vote, the League got just 8.5% this time, behind its once junior ally, Forza Italia, which was over 9%.

For the opposition, the main centre-left Democratic Party got 24.5%, followed by the populist Five Star Movement, which received only 10.5%, a seven-point decrease from the 2019 election.

Meloni, who personalized her electoral campaign betting on her personal “brand,” has now positioned herself as one of the most powerful figures in the EU, where far-right parties made major gains, dealing stunning defeats to two of the bloc’s most important leaders: French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“I’m proud that we are heading to the G7 and to Europe with the strongest government of all,” Meloni said, commenting on the electoral results at her party’s headquarters early Monday.

She called the outcome “extraordinary” and pledged to use it as “fuel” for the future.

Despite its solid popular support, Meloni’s conservative government needs a strong mandate to deal with the challenges ahead, especially given the fragile state of Italy's public finances and the prospect of a difficult budget for 2025.

“I think that Meloni gets out of these elections stronger, first of all because this is a government that has not lost consensus, which is quite unique in Europe,” said Giovanni Orsina, director of the school of government at LUISS university in Rome.

“Secondly, with the growth of far-right parties, Meloni is in a pivotal position between the far right and the European People’s Party,” he added.

Based on the latest projections, Meloni’s party will get from 23 to 25 seats in the European Parliament, up from six after the 2019 elections, when it was only a minor opposition party.

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