“Judging from news reports on the conservative election victory in Italy, one might come away thinking that the country is returning to its fascist history. In fact, the new governing coalition under Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia party marks a turn away from populist upheaval that has gripped the country over the past several years and back toward the mainstream conservatism of the past few decades.

“Center-right governments are hardly a novelty in Italian democracy. Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, the Lega Nord and Fratelli d’Italia (known then as Alleanza Nazionale) governed the country as a conservative coalition for parts of the 1990s and much of the 2000s. The newest incarnation under Meloni is no more extreme than the Berlusconi governments, which — though plagued by other problems — did not inspire the wails of dismay over the collapse of democracy that we’re hearing today.

“The Fratelli d’Italia is neither neo-fascist nor post-fascist; it is simply conservative. This new alliance is in keeping with the classic European right, with mainstream economic policies, a law-and-order program, a more conservative Catholic outlook on social issues (although Meloni has said she will not touch legislation on abortion), and a clear Atlanticist outlook imposed by Meloni on her partners. …”

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