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Giorgia Meloni, "Woman, mother and Christian"

Who is the first woman to hold the office of prime minister in Italy?

Meloni celebra su victoria

Cordon Press

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"I am Giorgia; I am a woman, I am a mother, I am a Christian." This is how Giorgia Meloni defined herself in 2019. In 2022, the Roman politician will add Italian prime minister to this definition, after winning this year's election. Despite accusations of her party being sexist, she will be the first woman to ever hold this position in Italy.

But who is Giorgia Meloni? She is an outspoken woman who avoids clichés and labels. Her recently published autobiography, I Am Giorgia, became the best-selling non-fiction book in Italy. She is the leader of Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d'Italia), a right-wing populist Italian political party. Her political ideology can be summarized in her own words from a speech she gave during a regional Spanish election campaign, where she was invited by the Spanish right-wing party Vox:

Yes to the natural family, no to LGBT lobbies; yes to sexual identity; no to gender identity; yes to the culture of life; no to the abyss of death; yes to the universality of the cross, no to Islamist violence; yes to secure borders, no to mass immigration.

"I lost [22 pounds] in three months"

Meloni emphasizes in her biography that the bullying she suffered as a teenager for being obese shaped her character. Instead of succumbing to her bullies, she took personal initiative: "I went on a diet and lost ten kilos (22 pounds) in three months," she wrote. In addition, "I learned that enemies are useful."

Meloni showed an early interest in politics. At the age of 15, she joined the Frente della Gioventù, the youth section of the Italian Social Movement. Meloni stood out early on and soon rose to the leadership ranks. She later formed her own student movement and, in 1995, became a member of the Italian party Alleanza Nazionale (AN). Barely one year later she was appointed president of the party's Student Alliance.

Youngest woman to win top political office

In 1998 Meloni was elected councilwoman in Rome. In 2004 she was appointed president of the Youth Front, later renamed Youth Action. Two years later she became a member of parliament and, under Gianfranco Fini - then president of AN - she became the youngest ever vice-president of parliament.

Meloni would set another record for youth shortly thereafter. She succeeded Silvio Berlusconi as Minister of Youth in 2008, making her the youngest female minister in Italian history. Meanwhile, her party merged in 2009 with center-right party Forza Italia, under the name People of Freedom. Meloni was entrusted with presiding over the party's youth outreach efforts.

Creation of the Brothers of Italy

In 2012, Meloni displayed her firm stance of defending her ideas. Then secretary general of her party, Angelino Alfano, endorsed Mario Monti. Meloni and two other colleagues showed their opposition and lobbied to replace him. After the attempt failed, Meloni left AN to join the Brothers of Italy, founded shortly before by Ignazio LaRussa, another of Monti's dissenters.

In 2014, Meloni became president of the new party after winning in the primaries. She has held this title since then, and with the Brothers of Italy's victory in the most recent elections, she will take the reins of Italy after just eight years of heading the party. The one setback in her meteoric trajectory was the her resounding defeat in 2016 in Rome's mayoral election.

Next stop, Palazzo Chigi

In 2021, Meloni made headlines when she made Brothers of Italy the only party that did not support the appointment of Mario Draghi as prime minister. Forza Italia, their traditional partners, however, did help the veteran technocrat become prime minister. Barely a year later, the seat of prime minister awaits her.

After confirming her victory, Meloni emphasized that she will work "to make Italians proud to be Italians." The leader stressed that "it is the time of responsibility" and announced that she intends to "govern for everyone."