Long before I became a columnist, I was fascinated by the study of political ideologies. The number of books and materials I’ve accumulated, have read and continue to read on this subject area is enough to make a grown man weep (and not tears of joy). Or my wife when she looks around the house!
My passion for political ideology also helps explain why I occasionally get infuriated when I see words like “conservative,” “liberal,” and “socialist,” or “right” and “left” get badly misinterpreted and misused. Many people don’t understand these concepts, so it’s somewhat understandable. Those who do understand, should know better and often go off on a tangent for personal and political gain are the ones who are truly at fault.
Here’s a recent example.
Italy held a snap election on Sept. 25, precipitated by the collapse of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s centre-left national unity government. With the political left in disarray, the centre-right coalition of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Matteo Salvini’s Lega, Maurizio Lupi’s Us Moderates and Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy gained huge momentum. Due to a standing agreement, the largest party in the coalition would choose the next Prime Minister.
The centre-right coalition won a majority, with the Brothers of Italy finishing first.
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The political left has gone ballistic at the prospect of Meloni leading Italy. Her politics, as well as the coalition’s, have been described as “far right,” “hard right,” “radical right,” and “neofascist” by liberal media organizations. She’s been compared to the second coming of Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. Some have suggested this could be the most right-wing government since the end of the Second World War.
Are they right? No, they’re wrong.
Italy’s centre-right coalition is just that, centre-right. The four parties are a mixture of ideologies: conservative, right-leaning liberal, Christian democracy, populist and nationalist. They don’t walk on the same political path. To maintain a majority in both Houses, the leaders will need to mesh together different right-leaning policies and philosophies. That’s the mark of democracy in action, not a tyranny-in-training.
The Brothers of Italy are the biggest party in the coalition (and country) with 26.01 percent, 119 of 400 Deputies seats and 65 out of 200 Senate seats. In Italy’s hybrid voting system, a combination of proportional and first-past-the-post electoral models, it’s virtually impossible for any one party to win a majority of seats and the popular vote. While Meloni’s electoral result was impressive, it doesn’t mean the party is the first choice of all Italians. Similar to other right-leaning and left-leaning parties in the volatile history of Italian politics.
What about Meloni? She’s centre-right, too.
Her political views, much like the party she co-founded, are typically associated with conservatism, national conservatism, right-leaning populism and Euroscepticism. She supports capitalism, private enterprise, free markets, a presidential system and religious freedom. She opposes abortion, euthanasia, multiculturalism, illegal immigration and laws recognizing same-sex marriage and civil unions. She wanted to create better relations with Russia before the invasion of Ukraine but has condemned the former ever since and remains committed to sending arms to the latter.
Would centre-right Conservatives agree with all of her positions? Not necessarily. Would they agree with most of them and be able to work with her on the others? Yes.
She was part of the Italian Social Movement’s Youth Front and praised Mussolini in the past, both positions of concern. Nevertheless, she’s pushed back against some far-right politicians and recently tossed out a Brothers of Italy candidate who had once praised Adolf Hitler. You can focus on the former if you wish or see obvious growth and maturity in the latter.
Meloni also seems to be an adherent of common sense politics.
In a recent translated speech, she made this fascinating assessment, “Why is the family an enemy? Why is the family so frightening? There is a single answer to all these questions. Because it defines us. Because it is our identity. Because everything that defines us is now an enemy for those who would like us to no longer have an identity and to simply be perfect consumer slaves.”
She went on to say, “And so they attack national identity, they attack religious identity, they attack gender identity, they attack family identity. I can’t define myself as Italian, Christian, woman, mother. No. I must be citizen x, gender x, parent 1, parent 2. I must be a number. Because when I am only a number, when I no longer have an identity or roots, then I will be the perfect slave of financial speculators. The perfect consumer.”
You can look for hidden meanings, shibboleths and any other false flag that your vivid imagination can concoct about Meloni. Her views on the family and personal identity aren’t hard right, radical right or far right. They’re centre-right, and inherently sensible.
Alas, the liberal media will happily continue to utilize the false political narrative about Meloni and Italy’s centre-right coalition for the foreseeable future. They know the uninformed general public will lap it up, and they’re perfectly fine with this.
Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper. He holds a master’s degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics.
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