Steps to take against expensive bills. The recipe for work. The construction site of reforms, starting with presidentialism. And then again the bitterness for the attacks of the left, the truth about the relationship with Mario Draghi and, above all, the pride of being the first woman to lead the government in Italy: “It would be to break the canopy”. Four days after the vote, Giorgia Meloni, leader of the favorite party in the polls, speaks to Il Tempo and outlines what, according to her wishes, Italy will be for the next 5 years. Without avoiding uncomfortable subjects such as the debate on the means of the PNR and the position to take in Europe against the Hungarian Viktor Orban.
President Meloni, what are the measures that the center-right government will implement in the first hundred days?
“Clearly the top priority right now is to protect families and businesses from rising energy bills. The most effective measure is to set a European cap on the price of gas and to decouple the price of gas from that of energy produced from other sources. This last intervention, if made by Europe, would have a greater impact, but Italy can also adopt it autonomously. It would cost 3 to 4 billion, without it being necessary to resort to a new budgetary shift, and would have an immediate effect. Immediately afterwards, the urgency of the work must be dealt with. We must support employment, reduce the tax wedge, encourage companies that create jobs according to the principle “the more you hire, the less you pay”. Then, we must put the family back at the center of political choices, with structural and long-term interventions: only in this way will we be able to get out of the demographic glaciation in which Italy is plunged. Finally, we must start working on reforms, starting with what we consider to be the mother of all reforms: presidentialism”.
She could be the first female prime minister and the first right-wing party leader to lead the government. He started from 1.9% and now represents at least a quarter of the electorate. After 70 years of the Republic, are we at a historic transition for Italy?
“I really hope that the Italians will choose to accompany this change on September 25. If a woman were to lead the government for the first time, it would mean breaking the canopy, demystifying a taboo that penalizes women. And it wouldn’t be just a symbolic step because – as we explain in our program – we are determined to concretely promote the path to equality and to overcome the gender pay gap, by helping women to reconciling work and maternity rights. If we have grown so much in recent years, it is because the Brothers of Italy have put its principles and its values before power and seats, renouncing to participate in the various rainbow governments that have followed one another. All this, I am convinced, the Italians have understood, also because they are the first to suffer the misdeeds of a certain way of doing politics”.
You said that in this election campaign you expected so many attacks, which was the one you did not expect and which hurt you the most?
“The sample of accusations addressed to me and to the Brothers in Italy is limitless. But we have broad shoulders, I think that’s the price to pay for the success we have with citizens. The accusations and insinuations linked to my status as a woman and a mother are the ones that hurt me the most. I grew up in a matriarchal family, I worked and played politics from a very young age, I try to reconcile my roles as a mother and a political leader: I know how much effort all of this costs a woman. And today I even see the secretary of the Democratic Party Enrico Letta who wants to explain to me what it means to be a woman… The truth is that the left and some feminists literally go crazy at the idea that a woman of right can become prime minister. They do not tolerate that I can go where they have never dared. But that’s what happens when you do ideological feminism and then, instead of struggling to emerge, you settle for what the male head of service grants.”
Conte even spoke of a civil war over who gets the citizenship income; Michele Emiliano said the right will have to “spit blood”. Are you worried about what might happen after the vote? How to pacify this country?
“We have lived through an election campaign marked by sterile hate campaigns and systematic provocations. We listened to a former prime minister and a regional president in office in tones that were not very institutional and indeed seemed to invite subversion. I wonder: what would have happened if these words had been spoken by a representative of the FdI? Unfortunately, the left takes refuge in terrorism and democratic alarm because it has nothing to say and tries to escape its responsibilities. We have never fallen into provocations in recent weeks. The nation will only be pacified when the left stops using history as a club against the adversary, labeling all those who do not side with it as monsters or as a danger to democracy, when it stops to pose as a censor by issuing presentability licenses without having any title, when abroad he puts the interest of the nation before that of his own faction. This election campaign has shown us that the centre-right looks to the future with maturity and responsibility, while others are still trapped in old patterns. They demonize us in the name of supposedly noble values for the sole purpose of preserving their worn-out power system.”
She says she has spoken a lot in recent months with Draghi. Is there any advice he gave you that you liked the most?
“President Draghi did not give me advice. The last time we spoke, we simply brought up the energy crisis, in a normal conversation between the chief executive and the main opposition force. That’s all. We read imaginative re-enactments of all kinds. My thoughts on Draghi are well known: no one questions his qualities, but governments choose them citizens with consistent majorities, with alliances that are decided before the vote and are not changed in Parliament. And that is exactly what we need to revive Italy and restore credibility to politics”.
A hot topic are PNR funds. Are you going to review the plan and what points do you think need to be changed?
“First of all, if the FdI and the centre-right win the elections, Italy will certainly not lose the money from the PNRR. In case we try to spend it faster than the so-called “government of the best” did. Several nations in Europe are considering modifying their PNRR plans, which were drafted under different conditions than today, in agreement with the European Commission. Obviously we do not plan to intervene on projects that have already started, on things that are already being done. We need a coupon to understand if the resource allocation as imagined is still the best possible in the face of the modified scenario. But above all, I want the money to hit the ground. The problem of adapting tenders to the increase in raw materials cannot be avoided”.
As prime minister, he may have to give his assent in Europe to cuts in transfers to Hungary. Will she confirm the vote against expressed by the FdI parliamentarians in Strasbourg? And could this complicate our relations with other EU partners?
“At the first point of the centre-right’s program are the historic cornerstones of Italian foreign policy: Europe and the Atlantic Alliance. Our location is not in question. Hungary is a democratic state. Of course, the Eastern European models are different from ours because until the 1990s we abandoned them under the Soviet yoke. Today more than ever, we must try to give them a hand, to accompany them if there really are national regulations which do not guarantee the transparency of contracts and which can compromise the efficient and correct use of European funds . The text voted on in Strasbourg and the current debate, on the other hand, are both tainted by an excess of ideology. It is a very political document, which has very little to do with how this money is spent. The text essentially says that Hungary’s access to European resources must be blocked, but this decision must be taken on the basis of detailed accusations, and not on the basis of political sympathy or aversion. Perhaps we have not realized the situation in which we find ourselves. There is a conflict at the heart of Europe, the most far-sighted choice would be to work to bring European nations closer together rather than to drive them apart. We cannot offer allies to our adversaries. And it seems to me that my concern is also shared by the US State Department, which insists on the need not to sever a link with a NATO member country, even more so at this stage”.