Italy Turns Right as Coalition Headed by Giorgia Meloni Wins National Vote; How Will It Affect Media?

Italy on Monday took a sharp turn towards the right as Giorgia Meloni and her Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, emerged as big winners in the country’s national elections.

Final results on Monday showed Meloni and her party winning roughly 26% of the vote and the center-right coalition she leads scoring 44% of parliamentary preferences. Within that coalition Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigrant League won nearly 9% and former prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia took 8%. A much smaller member of the coalition, called the Moderates, took less than 1%.

Meloni’s closest challenger, with some 19.3% of the vote, is the center-left Democratic Party headed by Enrico Letta, who has announced his resignation. Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement — which had won the vote in Italy’s 2018 parliamentary elections — saw its support halved to some 15% this time around.

Meloni, who is 45, is now poised to become Italy’s first female prime minister, leading the country’s most right-wing government since World War II.

She scored victory while running on anti-immigration policies, as well as plans to limit LGBTQ rights and abortions, though Meloni has insisted throughout the campaign that she does not intend to roll back Italian legislation introduced in 1978 that made abortion legal.

For the country’s film and TV industries, the most immediate symbolic significance of this election is that Berlusconi — who served as Italy’s prime minister three times during the 1990s and 2000s — will be back in parliament after being kicked out in November 2013 following a tax fraud conviction.

That conviction had barred the media-mogul-turned-politician, who controls Italy’s top commercial broadcaster Mediaset, from running in a general election for six years.

Though Berlusconi still has a pending trial for allegedly paying guests to lie about his “bunga bunga” sex parties while he was prime minister — charges that he denies — the scandal-prone billionaire, who turns 86 on Thursday, will now return to Italy’s parliament after being re-elected with more than 50% of the votes in the northern constituency of Monza.

This time around, Berlusconi will be joined in parliament by his latest girlfriend, Marta Fascina, 32, who won a seat in Sicily. Fascina is set to take up a seat in the lower Chamber of Deputies, while Berlusconi was elected to the upper house, the Senate.

While Italy’s new center-right coalition is the elections’ winner, the formation of the country’s new government, probably headed by Meloni, will take several weeks of intense political horse-trading to be voted in place, with outgoing premier Mario Draghi remaining until then in a caretaker role. The outcome of the government’s makeup — specifically who will head the country’s culture and economic development ministries — will help shed light on how the country’s rightward shift will impact the country’s film and TV sectors.

What’s clear even at this stage is that Meloni, though she has been known to rail against the European Union, is not expected to take an anti-EU stance as prime minister.

Italy is among the biggest beneficiaries of the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund and Berlusconi has said that his inclusion in the center-right bloc coalition will guarantee that Italy stays firmly anchored in the EU.

“There are no big surprises. I expect a relatively small impact considering that the League, the party with the least pro-European stance, seems to have come out weak,” Giuseppe Sersale, an Italian fund manager and market analyst, told Reuters.

Speaking to Variety ahead of the vote, Cinecittà studios CEO Antonio Maccanico said the electoral outcome was not likely to impact Italy’s generous 40% tax rebate for film and TV production — which was raised from 30% during the pandemic — and is the Italian film and TV industry’s key driver and the magnet attracting an increasing number of international productions to the country.

The vote is likely to prompt a management change at state broadcaster RAI, but it’s too early to say what types of new policies could be implemented at the mammoth broadcaster, which is expected to remain an important financing source for the country’s film and TV production sector.

 

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