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Italy’s Far Right Wins

Giorgia Meloni is expected to head the country’s most right-wing government since World War II.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party
Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party
Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party, speaks at a press conference at the party electoral headquarters in Rome overnight on Sept. 26. Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re following the rise of Giorgia Meloni, Russia’s decision to grant Edward Snowden citizenship, and Cuba’s vote to legalize same-sex marriage.

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Italy’s Far-Right Triumphs in Election

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re following the rise of Giorgia Meloni, Russia’s decision to grant Edward Snowden citizenship, and Cuba’s vote to legalize same-sex marriage.

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


Italys Far-Right Triumphs in Election

Far-right firebrand Giorgia Meloni is set to lead Italy after her party, Brothers of Italy, received the most votes in elections on Sunday. She is expected to head the country’s most right-wing government since the era of fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

Brothers of Italy ultimately won 26 percent of votes—six times more than it received in 2018—while the right-wing coalition it was part of secured 44 percent. But the election was marked by record-low voter turnout, with just 64 percent of people participating, almost a 10 percent drop compared to the last general election. 

Meloni represents the “the last, probably, available option for Italians to voice their discomfort with the political establishment and with the way the economy has been managed,” said Carlo Bastasin, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Low turnout, he added, “is another form of Italians’ discomfort with the political situation.

Since entering politics, Meloni has experienced a meteoric rise to the top, as Giorgio Ghiglione wrote in Foreign Policy in August. Her success was largely built on “the credibility crisis of her adversaries on the left and her allies on the right, who have all become increasingly inconsistent in the eyes of the public,” he wrote.

Despite her efforts to soften her position ahead of the election, Meloni is known for her hard-line stances, famously proclaiming: “Yes to the natural family. No to the LGBT lobby. Yes to sexual identity. No to the ideology of gender.” On immigration, she has pushed for a Mediterranean “naval blockade” and previously declared that Italy’s existing policies could transform it into the “refugee camp of Europe.” 

Outside of Italy, she has expressed support for both NATO and Ukraine—diverging sharply from her coalition allies, who have expressed more support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

In the coming months, Italy’s economic outlook—a key factor in this election—could prove to be a major test for new leadership. “The most important thing to follow is how the economy will perform starting from November. The situation is not good at all,” Bastasin said. “Italy’s likely to enter a recession at the end of the year, and probably for a good part of next year, which would be a bad surprise for the government.”

But the Italian bureaucracy may also stymie the government’s efforts to institute new policies, as Ben Munster argued in Foreign Policy. 

“Though Brothers of Italy has a clear path to government, it will, as others have before it, quickly come to discover that its ideas are essentially impossible to implement—thanks to an entrenched civil servantry, an implacable economic status quo, and, inevitably, the likely reality that it never had any ideas in the first place,” he wrote


What We’re Following Today

Russia grants Snowden citizenship. Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted citizenship to U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has already been living under asylum in the country for nearly a decade. Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s lawyer, said that he was not summoned in Putin’s recent military mobilization because he does not have prior military experience. 

Cuba’s historic referendum. Roughly two-thirds of Cubans have voted to approve a new family code that legalizes same-sex marriage and adoption, while also expanding women’s rights. It marks a historic turn for the country, which has a fraught legacy of sending gay men to labor camps


Keep an Eye On 

Iran protests continue. Authorities have arrested approximately 450 people in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran in the past 10 days as protests continue to spread across the country. The demonstrations were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly wearing insufficiently modest clothing.

The government has responded with violence and internet blackouts, killing more than 75 people, according to human rights organizations; the official death toll is 41. According to Amnesty International, four children have been killed by government forces since the protests began, due to “deliberate and unlawful firing of live ammunition at protesters.”

Venezuela denies atrocities. Venezuela has rejected a United Nations report that found the government had committed crimes against humanity as it suppressed dissent. The report also said that some orders of torture—including electric shocks and asphyxiation—came directly from President Nicolás Maduro.

The report “goes beyond the limits of the unspeakable, incorporating direct accusations against the president and other high authorities of my country,” said Héctor Constant Rosales, Venezuela’s ambassador in Geneva.

Kamala Harris’s Asia tour. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is in Japan for the first leg of her Asia tour, where she will attend former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s memorial; she touches down in South Korea on Thursday. The trip’s agenda will likely be dominated by security issues, especially over Taiwan and North Korea, which fired a ballistic missile on Sunday.  


Monday’s Most Read

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

Russia’s Sending Its Ethnic Minorities to the Meat Grinder by Amy Mackinnon

How Should the West Respond to Putin’s Military Mobilization? by Emma Ashford and Matthew Kroenig


Odds and Ends 

If you happen to be in Iceland and see someone chuck a baby puffin off a cliff, don’t be alarmed—it’s meant to save them.

Although puffins are typically guided by moonlight when they fly, artificial lights have confused them, and thousands of pufflings have inadvertently landed in Iceland’s Westman Islands, NPR reported. Flinging them off the island’s cliffs can actually help get them back on the right track. 

“It’s a great feeling because you just rescued this little guy. And when you bring him to the cliff—it’s the first time in his life he’s seeing the ocean, and he’s gonna live there for the next few years,” Kyana Sue Powers, who helped release the puffins, told NPR. “I’m always like, ‘Bye buddy, have a great life, I can’t wait to see you again.'”

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

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