Giorgia Meloni and the far-right Brothers of Italy vote at the top

The political leader of the brothers in Italy, Giorgia Meloni.

Marco Cantile | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Italians are about to elect the country’s first female prime minister and the first government led by the far right since the end of World War II.

Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party is set to get 22.5% to 26.5% of the vote, according to an exit poll late Sunday night. The party is in a broad right-wing coalition with Lega, under Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and a smaller coalition partner, Noi Moderati.

The alliance is set to win 41% to 45% of the vote according to exit polls, enough to secure a parliamentary majority, with the centre-left bloc on 22.5% to 26.5%. Early projections from the actual results will be issued on Monday morning.

Achieving political consensus and cementing a coalition could take weeks, and a new government could not come to power until October.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party was created in 2012, but has its roots in Italy’s 20th-century neo-fascist movement that arose after the death of fascist leader Benito Mussolini in 1945. A speech by Meloni in 2019 helped her become a household name when an unsuspecting DJ remixed her words (“I’m Giorgia, I’m a woman, I’m a mother, I’m Italian, I’m a Christian”) into a dance music track that went viral.

After winning 4% of the vote in the 2018 elections, the Brothers of Italy and Meloni used their position in opposition to leap into the mainstream. Meloni has taken great measures to appeal to a more moderate centre-right majority in Italian society and claims to have rid his party of fascist elements.

Incumbent Mario Draghi, a much-loved technocrat who was forced out by political infighting in July, remains in power in a caretaker role. The snap elections on Sunday in the EU’s third-largest economy come six months before they were due.

70 governments in 77 years: Why Italy changes governments so often

The election is being watched closely in Brussels, while the European region deals with the war in Ukraine, an energy crisis and rampant inflation. Brothers of Italy has reversed its opposition to the euro, but advocates reform of the EU to make it less bureaucratic and less influential on domestic politics.

On the economic front, it has deferred to the centre-right coalition’s position that the next government should cut sales tax on certain goods to ease the cost-of-living crisis, and has said Italy should renegotiate its Covid-19 recovery funds with the EU.

The party has been pro-NATO and pro-Ukraine and supports sanctions against Russia.

— CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.

This is a news story, please check back later for more.

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