The Normalization of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni

When it comes to political image makeovers, few can claim to have had a better year than the prime minister

The Normalization of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the Atreju convention of right-wing parties in Rome. (Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)

And to think that things were going so well for Giorgia Meloni.

When she emerged as the biggest winner of Italy’s parliamentary elections in fall 2022, fears of a revival of Italian fascism, in which her party has its roots, were ubiquitous in the international media.

But 2023 was the year when she slowly managed to change the international perception of her as an unreliable firebrand with neo-fascist sympathies.

Forbes listed her as the fourth-most powerful woman of the year, sandwiched between Kamala Harris and Taylor Swift. Closer to home, Politico Europe gave her the top spot as 2023’s “Disruptor of the Year,” which Meloni herself may well take as a compliment.

She ended the year on a high, at her party’s annual Atreju conference in Rome, a gathering of right-wing voices that has, in the past, included guests like Steve Bannon and Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orban. This year, she was joined on stage by her new political BFF, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak; the leader of Spain’s far-right VOX party, Santiago Abascal; and Elon Musk. The title of the conference was “Welcome back, Italian Pride.” (Any echoes of “pride” in the LGBTQ+ sense were purely incidental.)

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