ROME — In the weeks before Italy elected the hard-right leader Giorgia Meloni, the left sounded “the alarm for Italian democracy.” The European Union braced for Italy to join ranks with members like Hungary and Poland who have challenged the bloc’s core values. International investors worried about spooked markets.
But more than 100 days into her tenure, Ms. Meloni has proved to be less predictable. She has shown flashes of nationalist anger, prompting fears at home and abroad that an authoritarian turn remains just around the corner. But until now, she has also governed in a far less vitriolic and ideological and more practical way.
The unexpected ordinariness of her early days has vexed the European establishment and her Italian critics, prompting relief but also raising a quandary as to what extent the toned-down firebrand should be embraced or still cautiously held at arm’s length.
Ms. Meloni has made a case for herself. She has calmed international concerns over Italy’s ability to service its debts by passing a measured budget. She has had cordial meetings with European Union leaders and has muted her famously rapid-fire invective against the bloc, migrants and elites. She has followed in the footsteps of her predecessor, Mario Draghi, Mr. Europe himself, seeking to carry through on his blueprint to modernize the country with billions of euros in E.U. pandemic recovery funds.Read More (...)
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