Explained: Why politics is a family affair for Italy's far-right leader Giorgia Meloni
Italian far-right leader Giorgia Meloni's older sister Arianna has been involved in politics from a young age, and she also has a campaigning mother. However, her partner votes Left
Rome: A like-minded sister, a brother-in-law tipped for government and a campaigning mother — politics is a family affair for Italian far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, even if her partner votes Left.
The 45-year-old is on course to become the first woman to be Italy’s prime minister after her Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, triumphed in Sunday’s general election.
The self-described “Christian mother” has put defending traditional family values at the heart of her campaign, and her own family is key to both her backstory and her support network.
Meloni is very close with her older sister Arianna, who like her was involved in politics from a young age and whom Meloni described as “the most important person in my life” before her daughter Ginevra was born in 2016.
Arianna is also part of the Brothers of Italy family, married to Francesco Lollobrigida, head of the party’s parliamentary group in the lower Chamber of Deputies and tipped for a ministerial post in a Meloni-led government.
Talking to La Stampa daily after the election, Arianna described her sister as “very brave and very determined” and a “perfectionist”.
She rejected suggestions that Meloni — who campaigned on a motto of “God, country and family” — would change Italy’s abortion laws, saying: “She is on the side of women and acquired rights.”
The sisters were brought up in the working-class Rome neighbourhood of Garbatella by their mother, Anna Paratore, who has herself a keen interest in politics.
In an interview with French television in 1996, in which then-teen activist Meloni praised dictator Benito Mussolini, Paratore was presented as a long-time activist for the post-fascist right.
After the elections, her mother — a romantic novelist who has been an enthusiastic supporter of her daughter’s career — dismissed as “nonsense” concern about Meloni’s radical past.
Paratore added that she would be happy to see the end of the citizens’ income, an anti-poverty measure criticised for encouraging unemployment that Meloni has pledged to abolish.
“I rejoice in her success, but I don’t know if I would have wished her all this,” she told Corriere della Sera newspaper, noting the challenges ahead.
Paratore brought up her daughters alone after their father walked out when Meloni was very young, moving to the Spanish Canary Islands.
In her best-selling autobiography published last year, Meloni describes how her mother almost had an abortion when she was pregnant with her, only to change her mind at the last minute.
Meloni also wrote about the absence of her father, saying it left “perhaps a deeper wound than a father who dies… because when he leaves you are forced to deal with his ghost”.
Meloni holds up her own experience of parenthood as part of her appeal, declaring in a 2019 speech that went viral: “I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am Christian.”
The day after Sunday’s vote, she posted on Instagram a note from six-year-old Ginevra, saying: “Dear mummy, I am so happy that you won. I love you so much!”
Ginevra’s father is television journalist Andrea Giambruno, 41, whom Meloni met while giving an interview.
She recounted in her book how he took away the remains of a banana she had been eating during a commercial break before she went back on the air.
“Andrea is intelligent and confident in himself. He is very good at his job, and this makes him one of the few men in the world capable of not suffering if they have a successful woman next to them,” she wrote.
Giambruno — who the press note would become Italy’s “First Gentleman” if Meloni becomes premier — also votes for the left, she has admitted in interviews.
The couple is not married but Meloni has little time for those who suggest her marital situation is at odds with her political emphasis on the importance of children having a mother and a father.
“I have heard this nonsense very often,” she wrote in her book.
“If you are not married you cannot defend the natural family based on marriage. A bit like saying you if you are young, you cannot care about the problems of the elderly.”