Meloni hopes EU understands message from voters

By AFP
June 16, 2024
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speaks during a news conference to present her government's first budget in Rome, Italy, November 22, 2022. — Reuters

BARI, Italy: Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said Saturday she hoped the European Union would understand the “message” sent by voters in last weekend’s elections, after far-right parties such as hers made gains.

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Meloni, head of the post-fascist Brothers of Italy party, which performed particularly well in the vote, urged the EU to “understand the message that has come from European citizens”.

“Because if we want to draw lessons from the vote that everything was fine, I fear it would be a slightly distorted reading,” she told a press conference at the end of a G7 summit in Puglia.

“European citizens are calling for pragmatism, they are calling for an approach that is much less ideological on several major issues,” she said.

Meloni’s right-wing government coalition has vehemently opposed the European Green Deal and wants a harder stance on migration.

“Citizens vote for a reason. It seems to me that a message has arrived, and it has arrived clearly,” she said.

EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Monday to negotiate the top jobs, including whether European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen will get a second term.

Von der Leyen’s centre-right European People’s Party strengthened its grip with the vote, but her reconfirmation is not yet in the bag.

The 65-year-old conservative was in Puglia for the G7 and likely used the summit to put her case to the leaders of France, Germany and Italy.

But Meloni refused to be drawn on whom she is backing. “We will have a meeting on Monday, we’ll see,” she told journalists.

“We will also see what the evaluations will be on the other top roles,” she said.

Italian political watchers say Meloni is expected to back von der Leyen, but is unlikely to confirm that openly until Rome locks in a deal on commissioner jobs.

“What interests me is that... Italy is recognised for the role it deserves,” she said. “I will then make my assessments.”

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