Morning Brief

Foreign Policy’s flagship daily newsletter with what’s coming up around the world today. Delivered weekdays.

Italy Braces for Pivotal Election

If polling holds up, the country’s most far-right government since World War II could soon come into power.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
Brothers of Italy party leader Giorgia Meloni delivers a speech
Brothers of Italy party leader Giorgia Meloni delivers a speech
Brothers of Italy party leader Giorgia Meloni delivers a speech onstage on Sept. 22. ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Italy’s high-stakes vote, Iran’s escalating unrest, and the end of the Khmer Rouge trials.  

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Italy Braces for High-Stakes Election

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Italy’s high-stakes vote, Iran’s escalating unrest, and the end of the Khmer Rouge trials 

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Italy Braces for High-Stakes Election

Italians will head to the polls on Sunday in a pivotal vote that could install the country’s most far-right government since World War II.

As a populist tide overtakes Italy, far-right Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party is currently leading in polls; it is part of a right-wing coalition with Matteo Salvini’s the League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. Its main challenger is the center-left Enrico Letta’s Democratic Party, which has been falling behind it in polls.

Meloni, who was first profiled by FP in July 2019, is the favorite to become Italy’s first female prime minister—a potential outcome that has rattled other European leaders, given her past Euroskepticism. With a motto of God, family, fatherland, she is also known for her ultra-conservative stances on immigration, abortion, and LGBTQ rights.

“The feature that characterizes her, and the feature that is mirroring the sentiment of the Italian public opinion, is her insistence on victimhood,” said Carlo Bastasin, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “This is a very powerful emotional argument which goes down well for many populist politicians.”

As the election nears, Meloni has been careful to tone down her hard-right image, drawing clear lines between herself and other far-right European leaders, while also backing NATO and pledging her support for Ukraine. But even with these efforts, the Brothers of Italy party still hasn’t cast away its fascist origins, as Michele Barbero reported in Foreign Policy.

Meloni is “playing on two levels,” Bastasin said. “She speaks to her constituents, [who] want her to be strongly against the establishment, anti-elite and very, very conservative, sometimes reminiscent of the old neofascist arguments. But on the other hand, she is very reassuring when speaking to the international community or to the establishment itself in Italy.” 

Still, he cautioned that there is a high level of uncertainty about the election’s outcome—and her party’s post-election influence will ultimately hinge on how the votes shake out. 

“We can confidently assume that Meloni’s party will be the first party, but we cannot completely take for granted that her allies … will perform well,” Bastasin said. “In that case, we don’t know if the coalition that she will try to form will have really the stability or even the necessary number of seats to confidently govern the country.”


What We’re Following Today

Iran’s escalating unrest. At least 12 people, including five security forces, have been killed as Iran clamps down on its most intense protests in years. Demonstrations have gripped the country after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, died last Friday while in police custody for allegedly violating Iran’s hijab law. Amini’s father has accused the government of a cover-up.

As protests escalated, Iranian authorities reduced internet availability and cut access to WhatsApp and other platforms. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned that “acts of chaos are unacceptable.”

Khmer Rouge trials. After 16 years, a special tribunal tasked with investigating and prosecuting Khmer Rouge officials for atrocities—which killed around 1.7 million people in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979—has concluded. The court spent $337 million and ultimately convicted three men. 


Keep an Eye On 

North Korea refutes U.S. intelligence. North Korea has warned the United States to “stop making reckless remarks” and “keep its mouth shut” in response to a recently declassified U.S. intelligence report that said the country was selling weapons to Russia. 

“We have never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia before and we will not plan to export them,” a senior North Korean official said. 

World Bank climate controversy. After refusing to say whether he believed humans’ greenhouse gas emissions are fueling climate change—which is the scientific consensus—World Bank President David Malpass has now backtracked under mounting global pressure, claiming that he is “not a denier.” 

His original hedging had ignited calls for his resignation and cast a harsh spotlight on the World Bank’s climate track record. Malpass was appointed under the Trump administration and has previously been criticized by climate groups.


Thursday’s Most Read

What Russia’s Elites Think of Putin Now by Tatiana Stanovaya

Putin’s Energy War Is Crushing Europe by Christina Lu

‘Close Your Eyes and Pretend to Be Dead’ by Tristan McConnell


Odds and Ends 

Kale may be nutritious, but it’s not popular with fetuses, who appear to be more likely to pout in the womb after their mothers eat the leafy green, according to a new study published in Psychological Science. When carrots were eaten, however, they were more likely to appear with a smile.

Researchers said the findings could offer important insights into pregnant women’s diets. “What [we] know from other research is actually that if the mother has a varied diet, like vegetables and fruits etc., babies are much less fussy eaters,” Nadja Reissland, a co-author of the research, told the Guardian

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

Join the Conversation

Commenting on this and other recent articles is just one benefit of a Foreign Policy subscription.

Already a subscriber? .

Join the Conversation

Join the conversation on this and other recent Foreign Policy articles when you subscribe now.

Not your account?

Join the Conversation

Please follow our comment guidelines, stay on topic, and be civil, courteous, and respectful of others’ beliefs. Comments are closed automatically seven days after articles are published.

You are commenting as .

More from Foreign Policy

A closeup of Russian President Vladimir Putin
A closeup of Russian President Vladimir Putin

What Russia’s Elites Think of Putin Now

The president successfully preserved the status quo for two decades. Suddenly, he’s turned into a destroyer.

A member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police is seen in front of an electoral poster of President Emmerson Mnangagwa
A member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police is seen in front of an electoral poster of President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Cafe Meeting Turns Into Tense Car Chase for U.S. Senate Aides in Zimbabwe

Leading lawmaker calls on Biden to address Zimbabwe’s “dire” authoritarian turn after the incident.

Steam rises from cooling towers at the Niederaussem coal-fired power plant during the coronavirus pandemic near Bergheim, Germany, on Feb. 11, 2021.
Steam rises from cooling towers at the Niederaussem coal-fired power plant during the coronavirus pandemic near Bergheim, Germany, on Feb. 11, 2021.

Putin’s Energy War Is Crushing Europe

The big question is whether it ends up undermining support for Ukraine.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres attends a press conference.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres attends a press conference.

A Crisis of Faith Shakes the United Nations in Its Big Week

From its failure to stop Russia’s war in Ukraine to its inaction on Myanmar and climate change, the institution is under fire from all sides.