Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy

Among Italy’s 20 regions, Veneto, in the north-east of the country, is the one where Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party, Brothers of Italy (FdI), achieved the best results in last Sunday’s (25 September) elections.

In this prosperous and highly industrialized region, her party garnered 32.4 percent of the vote, compared to the Lega’s 16.6 percent, to the shock of journalists and political scientists.

  • Veneto has been the league’s stronghold for more than two decades; In the 2018 elections, the far-right party led by Matteo Salvini received almost 32 percent of the vote, the brothers four percent (Photo: Valentina Saini)

Veneto has been the league’s stronghold for more than two decades; In the 2018 election, the far-right party led by Matteo Salvini received nearly 32 percent of the vote, versus four percent for the brothers.

Carlo Valerio, entrepreneur and president of the Padua section of Confapi, a lobby of small and medium-sized businesses, attributed the league’s collapse to having “created a lot of expectations, especially among us entrepreneurs, that have not been translated into reality” in 2018 and in 2019 it governed in coalition with the 5 Star Movement but did nothing. Then she was part of the Draghi-led government, but she brought it down. Salvini led the league very badly.”

EUobserver spoke to several business representatives and they all agree: they voted for FdI because it promises stability, less bureaucracy and tax cuts for companies; they are also frightened by Salvini’s anti-EU rhetoric, while trusting that Meloni has “more common sense”.

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Giacomo Cervo is a young university student and left-wing activist living in Venice who knows the Veneto countryside well. While walking down one of Venice’s maze-like streets, he said: “I think that part of the big beasts of the league in the villages and towns of Veneto hindered Salvini. You are fed up with his leadership.

“In addition, the right-wing protest vote has shifted from the league to the FdI: Some voters don’t think it’s good that the league governs with Draghi.”

Many workers don’t seem to like the former ECB President.

companies and workers

EUobserver spoke to a group of workers in Mestre, a suburb of Venice; One called Draghi in Venetian dialect “the friend of the Germans and the French”, another said: “In Rome Draghi has done so much for the banks, so little for the people who are now paying skyrocketing electricity and gas bills. And you know, who was with him in Rome? Salvini.”

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The city of Vicenza is the “spiritual capital” of the League. A neo-Palladian mansion in a nearby town once housed the headquarters of the “Parliament of the North” – a sort of League assembly when the party called for federalism and thundered against Rome in the 1990s.

In Vicenza’s Renaissance city center, 28-year-old model and events organizer Elena told EUobserver: “Maybe the electorate of the League have stopped believing in this party. Salvini was not a good leader.”

Maria Teresa, 63, is a pensioner. Concerned about the rising cost of living, she believes Meloni is now trusted more than the league.

“Salvini shot himself in the foot, he’s made so many mistakes since 2019.” Alice, 26, an employee returning home from the supermarket, remarked: “The league has made empty promises in recent years. FdI was successful in Veneto and the rest of Italy because it promised what workers and employers wanted to hear.”

Giulia and Matteo are 26 and 29 years old: she is an intern in a law firm and he is a truck driver.

According to Matteo, FdI may have achieved a better result than the league because “Meloni was never in government”. Giulia said: “I think there is disillusionment with the league. Salvini made promises that he didn’t keep. People are fed up.”

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Giuseppe is a clothes seller at the local weekly market. He is 66. EUobserver met him in Vicenza’s main square, the Piazza dei Signori. He said: “I voted for Meloni. Nobody believes in Salvini anymore. He was supposed to stop illegal immigrants and he didn’t. People feel betrayed.”

Both Giuseppe’s grandfather and father were traveling salesmen. He tells that his father voted for the communists and so did he when he was young. But the Democratic Party, the largest center-left party in Italy, does not represent working people, he says. “I hope Meloni is different.”

Giorgia is a 30-year-old accountant who also works as a maître d’ at weekends. “Many people in Veneto have a somewhat closed mentality and are fixated on immigration. FdI has appropriated issues that were typical of the League, such as fighting immigration,” she explained. Sounds like Veneto has a new league and it’s called the Brothers of Italy.”