Io sono Giorgia. Le mie radici le mie idee
Author: Giorgia Meloni
Publisher: Rizzoli, Italy
Italian politics is fascinating, especially for those of us who only have to deal with it from a distance. The prime ministers are replaced so quickly that very few Norwegians are able to keep up. Who is prime minister now? Mario Draghi. Who was Prime Minister last year at this time? Giuseppe Conte. There have been many prime ministers since, the correct answer was Matteo Renzi, and even more since Silvio Berlusconi could boast that title. However, Berlusconi was the right answer many times between the mid-1990s and 2011.
In his last term as prime minister, Berlusconi appointed Giorgia Meloni as Minister of Youth. She was central to the neo-fascist party Alleanza Nazionale, aged 31 and the youngest-ever minister in Italy.
In December 2012, Giorgia Meloni established a new radical right-wing nationalist party, Fratelli d’Italia – Brothers of Italy. Good name choice: Brothers of Italy is also the name of Italy’s national anthem. After a somewhat slow start, the party won 20 percent support in the autumn of 2021. Although the re-election of Sergio Mattarella as President of Italy and thus the continuation of Conte as Prime Minister weakened Meloni somewhat, she can still become Italy’s next Prime Minister.
«Neither blacks nor gays deserve special rights.»
The family and traditional values
Who is she, really? To answer that, she has, at the age of 47, written a 327-page autobiography – Io sono Giorgia. Six weeks after the launch, the book had been printed in nine editions. The book is easy to read, personal and sentimental.
Although she insists this is not a political book, her political views shine through in her populist stories about herself. In the chapter «Little ladies», she tells how her young mother, Anna, already had a one-year-old and an ailing relationship when she became pregnant with Giorgia. We read that Anna stands on the steps outside the abortion clinic but changed her mind: «Without this brave and wise act, I would not have been born. I owe my life to my mother and her courage; I owe everything to my mother.»
Fratelli d’Italia are also abortion opponents. She talks about her great-grandmother, Maddalena, who was the perfect housewife in the 45 square meters they owned in a working-class district on the outskirts of Rome. The apartment was always tidy and freshly washed. Every week the great-grandmother lit candles and laid flowers on the grave of her son, Angelino, who died of meningitis aged just five.
Meloni talks «in tears» about her father, Franco, who left them when they were small to start a new life with a new woman in the Canary Islands. She (age 9) and her older sister, Arianna (age 10), travelled alone (nervous, you must know, it was with difficulty and barely caught the corresponding flight in Madrid!) to the Canary Islands to visit her father. But the father left them at home with his new wife to go on a trip himself when they arrived. That was the last time she saw him. When they returned home, her grandmother, Maria, comforted her for so long and with so many sweet biscuits dipped in milk that at the age of nine, she weighed 65 kg. At 31, she bought a 40-square-meter apartment near her mother and grandmother and lived there for eight years. Then, just before her daughter Ginevra was born, she moved to a slightly larger apartment. Giorgia was then 39 years old, and both she and the doctor thanked God for the successful pregnancy. So important are these themes that Giorgia Meloni calls one chapter «I am a Christian» and another «I am a mother.» Fratelli d’Italia also values Christianity, family and traditional values.
Fratelli d’Italia also wants to close Europe to migrants.
Brothers of Italy
Meloni tells about a colleague who was bullied for being gay. Giorgia herself was also bullied for being overweight. «Why should it be legal to bully someone for being fat but illegal to bully someone for being gay? Both are equally bad, and no one, neither blacks nor gays, deserves special rights», she writes. «I am a woman, but I have never been discriminated against for that reason. I have always been elected to political positions because of my abilities, not because of my gender. As a woman, I’m interested in everyone, not just women. I hate gender quotas!» Fratelli d’Italia is also homophobic and opposed to any form of quotas.
In the book, Meloni says that she likes Europe. She has travelled on the continent a lot: She has cried in Paris, experienced the sun set at Stonehenge and been melancholic in Westminster. And she has learned a lot from the heroes of European history. Highlighted is Karl Martell, who wins over an Arab army in the French city of Poitier in the year 732 and thus stops the Arabs’ march into Europe. But Constantinople, which for over 1000 years was the seat of the Orthodox-Roman Empire before it had to give up to the Muslims in 1453, has also inspired Giorgia: «I am not against Europe. I am only against bureaucratization and detailed management in today’s Europe. Why are Poland and Hungary vilified for wanting to preserve their identity? Our identity disappears if we let in everyone who wants to come here. There are over a billion Africans who want to go to Europe. Are we to accept that criminals and prostitutes who manage to get in illegally are allowed to stay?» According to Meloni, Europe needs stronger police and stricter border controls: «I am in favour of building walls against migration, physical walls on land and boat blockades at sea.» Fratelli d’Italia also wants to close Europe to migrants.
The leader of one of the largest political parties in Italy has written a book devoid of political analysis. Io sono Giorgia is a tearful and sentimental book full of personal anecdotes, a book in which Giorgia Meloni devotes more space to her love of Christmas markets and which ones she has visited (Berlin, Paris, New York) than to whom Fratelli d’Italia would like to collaborate with if they become Italy’s largest party in the next election. Then Italy can have Meloni as prime minister – and we will think of Berlusconi as a good, old-fashioned social democrat in relation to…