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Brothers of Italy

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Brothers of Italy
Fratelli d'Italia
AbbreviationFdI
PresidentGiorgia Meloni
Founders
Founded17 December 2012 (2012-12-17)
Split fromThe People of Freedom
HeadquartersVia della Scrofa 39, Rome
NewspaperGazzetta Tricolore
(2012–2015)
La Voce del Patriota
(since 2018)
Student wingStudent Action
University Action
Youth wingNational Youth
Membership (2021)130,000[1]
Ideology
Political positionRight-wing[10] to far-right[11][a]
National affiliationCentre-right coalition
European affiliationEuropean Conservatives and Reformists Party
International affiliationThe Movement
European Parliament groupEPP (2014)
ECR (since 2019)
Colours  Blue
Chamber of Deputies
40 / 630
Senate
21 / 315
European Parliament
8 / 76
Regional Councils
79 / 897
Conference of Regions
2 / 21
Website
fratelli-italia.it

^ a: FdI is considered part of the radical right,[12] a subset of the far right that does not oppose democracy.[13][14][15] However, the party has also been described as neo-fascist by some academics, or as having elements within the party that are linked to the neo-fascist movement.[16][17]

Brothers of Italy (Italian: Fratelli d'Italia, FdI) is a right-wing populist and national-conservative political party in Italy led by Giorgia Meloni, a member of the Chamber of Deputies and former minister of youth in the Berlusconi IV Cabinet.

Brothers of Italy emerged from a right-wing split within Silvio Berlusconi's party, The People of Freedom (PdL), in December 2012.[18] The bulk of the party leadership (including Meloni), as well as the symbol of the movement (the tricolour flame),[19] comes from the National Alliance (AN, 1995–2009) party, which had merged into PdL in 2009.[20] AN was the heir to the Italian Social Movement (MSI, 1945–1995), a neo-fascist party founded by former members of the banned National Fascist Party (1921–1943) and the Republican Fascist Party (1943–1945).[21][22][23]

FdI's main ideological trends are conservatism, nationalism, nativism, soft euroscepticism, and opposition to immigration. At the European-level, FdI is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Party, of which Meloni has served as president since September 2020.[24] According to Meloni, FdI proposes a "confederal Europe of nations" as opposed to a federal Europe.[25][26]

History

Background and foundation

In November 2012, Ignazio La Russa and Maurizio Gasparri, leaders of the Protagonist Right, a faction within The People of Freedom (PdL), announced their support for Angelino Alfano in the party primary scheduled for December.[27] The subsequent cancellation of the primary was not agreed with by La Russa and many others in the party. On 16 December 2012, Giorgia Meloni, Fabio Rampelli, Guido Crosetto, and Giuseppe Cossiga organised in Rome the Primaries of Ideas,[28] in which they openly criticised Silvio Berlusconi's leadership and any possible prospect of an electoral alliance with Prime Minister Mario Monti, proposed by some leading factions of the party, among them Liberamente, Network Italy, Reformism and Freedom, Liberal Populars, New Italy, and FareItalia.[29][30]

On 17 December 2012, La Russa, one of the three PdL national coordinators, announced he was leaving the party in order to form the National Centre-Right, including not just right-wingers but also Christian democrats and liberals from Forza Italia (FI) such as Crosetto and Cossiga.[31] The split from the PdL was agreed with Berlusconi in order to better represent the Italian right and offer an appealing choice to right-wing voters.[31] Simultaneously, Crosetto and Meloni announced the formation of Brothers of Italy, whose name was taken from the first line of the Italian national anthem.[32] On 21 December, the two groups, formed mainly by former members of National Alliance such as La Russa, Meloni, Rampelli, Massimo Corsaro, Viviana Beccalossi, and Alfredo Mantica, joined forces as Brothers of Italy – National Centre-Right,[33] usually shortened to Brothers of Italy (FdI). La Russa's followers soon formed their own groups in most regional councils, starting with the Regional Council of Lombardy,[34] and the Senate of the Republic.[35] Carlo Fidanza and Marco Scurria, MEPs in the European People's Party group, also joined the party.[36]

2013 general election and aftermath

In the 2013 Italian general election, the party obtained 2.0% of the vote and won nine seats in the Chamber of Deputies.[37] On 5 March 2013, the party's executive board appointed La Russa president, Crosetto coordinator, and Meloni leader in the Chamber of Deputies. During the 2013 Italian presidential election's fourth ballot on 19 April, FdI decided to support Franco Marini, a Democratic Party (PD) member supported also by PdL and Lega Nord (LN). Following the unsuccessful outcome of the vote, FdI started voting for colonel Sergio De Caprio, known for having arrested Sicilian Mafia boss Salvatore Riina.[38] On 29 April, Meloni announced in the Chamber of Deputies the party's vote of no confidence for Enrico Letta's government, supported by PD, PdL, and Civic Choice.[39]

In September 2013, FdI launched Workshop for Italy (OpI), a political initiative aimed at broadening the party's base.[40] The newly formed OpI's political committee, led by Cossiga, included, among others, former minister of Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata, former members of AN (notably including Gianni Alemanno, Mario Landolfi, Sergio Berlato, Adolfo Urso and Souad Sbai), former members of FI (including former Socialists like Giulio Tremonti and Antonio Guidi, and former Christian Democrats like Fabio Garagnani), former members of the Union of the Centre (Magdi Allam and Luciano Ciocchetti), and a former member of the LN (Oreste Rossi).[41] Alemanno's Italy First and Urso's FareItalia were to join FdI by February 2014.[42][43]

National Alliance Foundation

In December 2013, the National Alliance Foundation, the association in charge of administering the assets of the defunct party, authorized FdI, supported by Alemanno and Urso, to use the logo of AN in the 2014 European Parliament election in Italy,[44] despite opposition from the Movement for National Alliance alternative front composed of The Right, Future and Freedom, Tricolour Flame, I the South, and New Alliance,[45] as well as the former members of AN who had joined FI like senators Maurizio Gasparri and Altero Matteoli.[46]

In February 2014, the party organised a primary in which members and supporters agreed to change the party's name to Brothers of Italy – National Alliance, chose the new symbol, including in small AN's one, and re-elected Meloni as president.[47] During the party's first congress in March 2014, FdI ratified the primary's outcomes; the congress also voted for the party to leave the European People's Party Group in the European Parliament and adopt Eurosceptic positions.[48][49] In the 2014 European Parliament election in Italy, FdI obtained 3.7% of the vote and no seats, while doing well in Central and Southern Italy, especially in Lazio (5.6%), Umbria (5.4%), Abruzzo (4.7%), and Campania (4.5%), as well as in north-eastern Friuli-Venezia Giulia (4.4%).[50]

During an assembly of the association in October 2015, the representatives of FdI, supported by former AN heavyweights who had remained in the PdL, won a decisive vote over a front led by Alemanno, who had left FdI earlier, joined forces with former allies of Gianfranco Fini and wanted to form a larger party, including FdI, which retained the use of AN's name and symbol, while Alemanno announced that he would create a Movement for the United Right.[51][52]

Road to the 2018 general election

Meloni at the Quirinal Palace in 2019

In November 2015, it was announced that the party would undergo a new process of enlargement and that a new political committee, named Our Land (TN), would be launched by January 2016. TN would comprise FdI, along with other right-wing politicians, notably including Cossiga (former deputy of FI and founding member of FdI), Alberto Giorgetti (a deputy of FI, who was long a member of AN) and Walter Rizzetto (deputy of Free Alternative, originally elected with the Five Star Movement).[53][54][55] In March 2016, Rizzetto officially joined FdI and it was announced that the party's group in the Chamber would be renamed Brothers of Italy–Our Land.[56][57][58] The name change never happened, but the party's enlargement continued with the switch of two deputies from FI.[59]

In the 2016 Rome municipal election, Meloni ran for mayor with the support of Us with Salvini but in competition with the candidate supported by FI. Meloni won 20.6% of the vote, almost twice than FI's candidate, but did not qualify for the run-off, while FdI obtained 12.3%.[60] In the 2017 Sicilian regional election, Nello Musumeci, a conservative close to the party,[61] was elected president of Sicily.[62]

During the party's second congress in December 2017, Meloni was re-elected president, the party was renamed simply Brothers of Italy, and a new symbol was unveiled. In the event, FdI welcomed several newcomers, notably including Daniela Santanchè and Bruno Mancuso,[63] respectively from FI and Popular Alternative (AP).[64][65][66] Mancuso became the party's third senator after Stefano Bertacco,[67] as well as Bartolomeo Amidei,[68] had previously switched from FI. Additionally, Crosetto and Urso returned to an active role in the party.[69] Finally, Alessandro Urzì led the Alto Adige in the Heart party into FdI.[70]

2018 general election and aftermath

In the 2018 Italian general election, as part of the centre-right coalition,[71] FdI obtained 4.4% of the vote and won more than three times the seats won in 2013.[72] In November 2018, in the run-up to the 2019 European Parliament election in Italy, the party agreed to join the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament,[73][74] opening the way for a pact with other minor conservative parties in Italy, notably including Raffaele Fitto's Direction Italy.[75][76]

Party member Marco Marsilio won 48.0% of the vote in the 2019 Abruzzo regional election and became FdI's first regional president on 10 February.[77] For the 2019 European Parliament election in Italy, FdI recruited several high-profile candidates, including five outgoing MEPs (two of Direction Italy, plus three more recent splinters from FI: Fabrizio Bertot, Stefano Maullu, and Elisabetta Gardini), other former FI heavyweights (Alfredo Antoniozzi and Monica Stefania Baldi), and renowned sociologist Francesco Alberoni.[78] FdI obtained 6.4% of the vote (10.3% in Calabria, 9.0% in Lazio, 8.9% in Apulia, and 8.4% in Basilicata) and five MEPs.[79][80]

For the 2022 Italian presidential election on 24–29 January, FdI voted Carlo Nordio when all the other main parties proposed a re-election of incumbent president Sergio Mattarella.[81][82][83] In April 2022, the party organised a large convention in Milan, in order to discuss its political program and start the campaign for the next general election.[84][85]

2022 general election

FdI volunteers canvassing in Cascina, Tuscany, three days before the 2022 general election

After the resignation of Mario Draghi in July amid the 2022 Italian government crisis,[86][87][88] the Italian Parliament was dissolved and the snap 2022 general election was called.[89]

In the run-up to the election, several leading centre-right personalities, some previously affiliated with Berlusconi's FI, joined the FdI electoral lists.[90][91] They included Giulio Tremonti[92] (ex-PSI and ex-FI, former finance minister), Marcello Pera (ex-PSI and ex-FI, former president of the Senate), Antonio Guidi (ex-PSI and ex-FI, former family and social solidarity minister), Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata (former foreign affairs minister) and Carlo Nordio (former prosecutor, member of the Italian Liberal Party).[93]

Ideology and factions

Political commentators have described FdI as neo-fascist,[16][94] post-fascist,[95] right-wing,[96][97][98][99] far-right,[100][101][102] nationalist,[103][104] conservative,[94][7] socially conservative,[105][106] and right-wing populist,[5][6][a] mainly due to their conservative, nativist, and anti-immigration domestic stances.[7] The party has been frequently described as Eurosceptic,[7][8][9] and its leadership stated it wanted to "re-discuss" European Union treaties and amend Italy's constitution to give Italian law priority over European law,[107][108] including withdrawing from the eurozone.[109][110] In 2018, Meloni abandoned the idea of leaving the euro.[111][112] Prior to the start of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the party was in favour of better relations with Russia while maintaining a pro-NATO stance.[7] Since then, it condemned the invasion and promised to send arms to Ukraine.[113]

FdI calls for a zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigration and wants to blockade migrants from reaching Italian ports and boost the birth rate of Italian nationals to ease the need for migrant labour.[108] Although some of its members reject the label, FdI has been described as neo-fascist,[16] in part due the party's history dating back to the Italian Social Movement (MSI),[114] its far-right ties,[115][116][117] its appeal to neo-fascists on social media such as Facebook,[118] and some party leaders' nostalgia for Italian Fascism.[119][120][121]

Some members of the Mussolini family have run for the FdI party such as Rachele Mussolini, granddaughter of Benito Mussolini, for the City Council of Rome, and Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini, great-grandson of Benito Mussolini, for the 2019 European Parliament election.[122]

In October 2021, FdI distanced itself from New Force (a neo-fascist party whose roots are not in the MSI, but in Terza Posizione), after they violently assaulted the labour union Italian General Confederation of Labour's headquarters; the party abstained on a parliamentary motion to ban New Force while condemning "all totalitarianisms". A December 2021 investigation by Fanpage.it on allegations of money laundering and illicit campaign financing also revealed FdI had ties with neo-Nazis in the Milan party section.[123] Meloni told Corriere della Sera there were no "nostalgic fascists, racists or antisemites in the Brothers of Italy DNA" and that she had always got rid of "ambiguous people",[124] and in other interviews said there was no place for fascist nostalgia in FdI.[19] Critics have been sceptical.[124]

FdI has included several organised internal factions, including a minor liberal-conservative faction,[125] among them:

Alemanno and Poli Bortone left FdI, along with their factions, in December 2014 and April 2015, respectively.[126][127] In December 2019, Alemanno returned through the MNS.[128]

In regards to social issues the party opposes euthanasia and abortion. It also has been described as being strictly "anti-gay marriage" and supporting the "traditional family unit".[129] It has also been stated that the party collaborates with "anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ+ movements".[130]

Election results

A summary of the electoral results of FdI in national and European elections since 2013 is shown in the chart below.

Italian Parliament

Chamber of Deputies
Election year Votes % Seats +/− Leader
2013 666,035 (8th) 2.0
9 / 630
Giorgia Meloni
2018 1,429,550 (5th) 4.4
32 / 630
Increase 23 Giorgia Meloni
2022 8,577,300 (1st) 26.0
119 / 400
Increase 87 Giorgia Meloni
Senate of the Republic
Election year Votes % Seats +/− Leader
2013 590,083 (7th) 1.9
0 / 315
Giorgia Meloni
2018 1,286,606 (5th) 4.3
18 / 315
Increase 18 Giorgia Meloni
2022 7,779,478 (1st) 26.0
65 / 200
Increase 47 Giorgia Meloni

European Parliament

European Parliament
Election year Votes % Seats +/− Leader
2014 1,004,037 (7th) 3.7
0 / 73
Giorgia Meloni
2019 1,726,189 (5th) 6.4
6 / 76
Increase 6 Giorgia Meloni

Regional councils

Region Election year Votes % Seats +/−
Aosta Valley 2020 3,761 (7th)[a] 5.7
0 / 35
Steady 0
Piedmont 2019 105,410 (5th) 5.5
2 / 51
Increase 1
Lombardy 2018 190,804 (9th) 3.6
3 / 80
Increase 1
South Tyrol 2018 4,883(9th)[b] 1.7
1 / 35
Trentino 2018 3,686 (15th) 1.4
0 / 35
Veneto 2020 196,310 (4th) 9.5
5 / 51
Increase 4
Friuli-Venezia Giulia 2018 23,183 (6th) 5.5
2 / 49
Emilia-Romagna 2020 185,796 (3rd) 8.6
3 / 50
Increase 2
Liguria 2020 68,062 (4th) 10.9
3 / 50
Increase 2
Tuscany 2020 219,165 (3rd) 13.5
4 / 41
Increase 3
Marche 2020 116,231 (3rd) 18.7
8 / 31
Increase 7
Umbria 2019 43,443 (3rd) 10.4
2 / 21
Increase 1
Lazio 2018 220,460 (5th) 8.7
3 / 50
Increase 2
Abruzzo 2019 38,894 (5th) 6.5
3 / 31
Increase 3
Molise 2018 6,461 (5th) 4.5
1 / 21
Campania 2020 140,918 (5th) 6.0
4 / 51
Increase 2
Apulia 2020 211,693 (2nd) 12.6
7 / 51
Increase 7
Basilicata 2019 17,112 (6th) 5.9
1 / 21
Calabria 2021 66,277 (3rd) 8.7
4 / 31
Steady 4
Sicily 2017 108,713 (7th)[c] 5.7
3 / 70
Sardinia 2019 33,423 (7th) 4.7
3 / 60
Increase 2
  1. ^ In a joint list with Forza Italia
  2. ^ In a joint list with Alto Adige in the Heart
  3. ^ In a joint list with Us with Salvini

Leadership

See also

References

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Bibliography

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