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Apparently the Brothers of Italy are favorites in the upcoming election, although they are part of a coalition with Lega etc.

What sets the Brothers apart from other Italian parties in the same zone of the political spectrum?

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    With the risk of sounding trite: how do the Brothers (at least) differ of distinguish themselves from the Lega? Is it like Pepsi and Coke?
    – Fizz
    Sep 21 at 17:24
  • No. The Brothers are founded by members of banned fascist parties whilst the Lega, whilst described as populist right-wing are more socialist libertarian. Sep 21 at 20:59

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The core of Fratelli d’Italia is composed of politicians who have been in the parliament for decades and who have already been part of past governments (often with different parties). Some examples: Meloni (member of the parliament since 2006), La Russa (member of the parliament since 1992, minister of defence in 2008-2011), Crosetto (member of the parliament since 2001), Santanchè (member of the parliament since 2001), Tremonti (member of the parliament since 1994, minister of finance in 1994-1995 and 2001-2004), Fitto (member of the parliament since 2006, minister for regions and local policies in 2010-2011), Rotondi (member of the parliament since 1994, minister for the achievement of the government program in 2008-2011).

This aspect is crucial, in my opinion, because it leads to important consequences:

  • Most citizens do not see them as a real threat for democracy, because they have been in the parliament (and often in television) for decades, and they appear fully integrated in the democratic process.
  • Politicians from opponent parties know them well, sometimes they even were in the same governments in the past. So, they are not perceived as a “foreign object” trying to modify the status quo, as Movimento 5 Stelle was perceived when they were first elected.
  • They have long-time presence in local administrations that grants them an electoral base spread all over Italy.

Additionally, during the electoral campaign, they never questioned the role of Italy in NATO and in the Atlantic Coalition, and while they often harshly criticized the EU, they never really stated their will of leading Italy outside the EU.

On the other hand, extremist parties such as Alternativa per l’Italia or Italexit have one leader with a bad or shady reputation, candidates unknown to public opinion and zero experience in governing. They also openly state that they want to change the position of Italy within NATO and EU. So, they basically represent an incognita and it is impossible to predict what they would do once they would eventually be elected.

Fratelli d’Italia positions do overlap with those of small extremist parties on the subjects of civil rights (very conservative positions) and, to some extent, economy, nominally wanting to protect Italian agricultural and industrial production from foreign imports and wanting to have more independence from the European Central Bank.

To summarize the two main differences between Fratelli d’Italia and small extremist parties are:

  • Milder criticism on Italy's current position in the EU and NATO.
  • Significant longer experience in governing, that makes them look somehow more reliable to potential electors.

My very personal opinion is that Fratelli d’Italia’s politicians see politics as a job and they simply want power and prestige for the sake of it, as do the large majority of politicians. They recently achieved high consent because of fortuitous reasons: COVID and the consequential economical crisis occurred when Italy was governed by a coalition of all major parties except Fratelli d’Italia. People's life got harder, blaming government is easy and Fratelli d’Italia can say that they were opposing a government that made people’s lives harder and that they represent a valid alternative. If they will be the major party after elections, I expect that they will probably implement some conservative policies on some internal subjects such as the management of illegal immigration or the criteria to obtain citizenship. But I strongly doubt that they will attempt to modify the constitution threatening democracy or that they will modify Italy position in foreign policy.

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Have you checked Wikipedia? It says:

The Brothers of Italy emerged from a right-wing split within Berluscouni's party, The People of Freedom in December 2012.

The bulk of the party's leadership, including Meloni, as well as the symbol of the party come from the National Alliance ... heir to the Italian Socialist Movement, a neo-fascist movement founded by the banned National Fascist Party and Republican Fascist Party.

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    That tells me how the party emerged. The rather usual splintering and mixing that happens in Italy with other parties. Doesn't help much with my actual Q how it nowadays differs e.g. even from the Lega in terms what it advocates etc.
    – Fizz
    Sep 22 at 0:11
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Media coverage.

They are dedicating a big share of their time and online space to the leader Giorgia Meloni and they created around her an image and a profile similar to that of Marine Le Pen. The political role is exactly the same, she has to scare the voters in order to render more acceptable the bankers friendly candidate. Therefore people may consider her main adversary Enrico Letta the equivalent of Emmanuel Macron. Letta is the leader of a party that on the paper should be on the left, but actually the party has been slowly taken over by business people. One of it most known candidates in this election is Pier Ferdinando Casini, an ex ally of Berlusconi who spent a life in centrist parties with conservative views and he still is a conservative, Letta himself is a relative of a long-time advisor of Berlusconi. Furthermore the party recently not only supported Mario Draghi's government, but it also distinguished itself for supporting laws against the labourers whom they should represent.

So, what is the main point? It is an attempt to render Italian politics closer to the American system restricting the number of parties. Fake polls claim that only few parties are going to gather the majority of the votes and then urge voters to concentrate their votes on one of those parties in order to prevent the victory of the other apparent winning candidate in the race. More or less what happened in the recent French elections.

Update. Further details on the pressure by the media.

Today in Italy there should be what is called electoral silence, the official campaign has ended, the media should stay silent about politics to let voters make their decision without external influence. But the media relying on foreign support can easily circumvent the ban. Like in this case on RFI a business friendly French media outlet. Note: As usual. The purpose of the article is not to support Meloni, but to urge the voters to vote for Letta in order to prevent a victory by Meloni.

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