ROME (AP) — The honeymoon is over even before any marriage of political convenience can be formalized in Italy.
The resounding victory of far-right leader Giorgia Meloni in the general elections of September 25 does not sit well with Silvio Berlusconi, 86the three-time conservative former prime minister who, four decades her senior, considers himself the greatest statesman on Italy’s political right.
Meloni He is expected to be asked next week by Italy’s president to try to create a governing coalition with campaign allies Berlusconi and right-wing leader Matteo Salvini and become prime minister. The behind-the-scenes split of ministries in what would be Italy’s first far-right-led government since the end of World War II began after its Brothers of Italy party won 26% of the votes cast, more than those won by force. of Salvini and Berlusconi together.
The knives carving those cabinet posts are proving particularly sharp.
Salvini on Saturday issued a kind of call for a truce between Meloni and Berlusconi so that the three allies’ attempt to govern Italy is not derailed.
“I am sure that even between Giorgia and Silvio that harmony will return, which will be essential for the government, well and together, for the next five years,” Salvini said in a statement released by his anti-immigrant League party about the escalation. post-election tensions.
A dispute between Berlusconi and Meloni turned ugly when the former prime minister and a media mogul scribbled a list of derogatory adjectives about her on paper bearing the name of her villa near Milan. She placed it in the Senate in full view of photographers covering Thursday’s election of the speaker of the upper house of parliament.
“Giorgia Meloni,” Berlusconi wrote, noting that her ways are “presumptive, bossy, arrogant, offensive.” A fifth adjective, “ridiculous,” appeared to have been scrawled, Italian media said, magnifying the image.
As for political differences—Berlusconi bills himself as a staunch supporter of the European Union, while Meloni has said that national interests must take precedence over any conflicting EU priorities—their dispute seemed patriarchal.
“In Berlusconi’s etiquette, the woman is courted and perhaps even revered, but a true man cannot take orders from her, much less accept her saying ‘no,'” wrote Massimo Gramellini in the daily Corriere della Serra, in his front page. accessory that points to political weaknesses.
By all accounts, Meloni had vetoed a ministry for a close political associate of Berlusconi, who is one of his several female political protégés.
With his self-described soft spot for young women, Berlusconi has launched the political careers of female lawmakers from Forza Italia, the center-right party he created three decades ago.
Reflecting Berlusconi’s resentment, nearly all of his senators refused to vote for Meloni’s pick for Senate president, Ignazio La Russa, a longtime nostalgic fascist who helped Meloni, now 45, establish Brothers of Italy in 2012 while forging his far-right politics. ascent.
The boycott of Forza Italia gave him a strong rebuke. Meloni, known for her jizz and her sharp tongue, didn’t bat an eye.
“It seems that one point was missing among those listed by Berlusconi: that they cannot blackmail me,” Meloni told private Italian television La7.
Meloni has already stood firm during the election campaign. When opinion polls indicated that she was by far the leading candidate for Berlusconi and Salvini, those two tried unsuccessfully to get out of the long-standing pact that the best candidate in campaign coalitions would become prime minister if their forces they were victorious.
Together, the three leading parties command a comfortable majority in the newly installed Parliament.
Still, Meloni needs the forces of Berlusconi and Salvini for any viable coalition.
Salvini bristled for days when it seemed Meloni would not let him become interior minister, a post he held in 2018-2019 and used to crack down on immigrants arriving by the tens of thousands on smuggler boats or rescue ships. On Friday, Meloni’s forces backed the election to the presidency of the Lower Chamber of Deputies of a League deputy, Lorenzo Fontana, an ultra-conservative who, like Salvini, has openly admired Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Friday night, the pentagram symbol of the Red Brigades, the far-left group that terrorized Italy in the 1970s while far-right militants also launched attacks, was scrawled alongside the name of La Russa in a Brothers of Italy neighborhood office. It is the same office where Meloni cut his political teeth as a teenager in the youth wing of a neo-fascist predecessor of his own party.
Meloni on Saturday retweeted the description of his party’s vandalism as “a clear reference to the dramatic years we don’t want to relive and vowed in a tweet to “unite the nation, not divide it like someone is trying to do.”