Liz Truss congratulated Italy’s new PM Giorgia Meloni and people quickly pointed out the obvious

A graphic of UK prime minister Liz Truss and right-wing Italian political leader Giorgia Meloni in front of flags for both nations

Liz Truss congratulated Italy’s new prime minister Giorgia Meloni and people on social media quickly jumped in to point out how problematic the right-wing leader is.

Truss described the UK and Italy as “close allies” in a message to Meloni, whose party the Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) is expected to become the country’s first far-right-led government since World War II, on Twitter. 

“Congratulations to Giorgia Meloni on her party’s success in the Italian elections,” the British prime minister wrote. “From supporting Ukraine to addressing global economic challenges, the UK and Italy are close allies.”

However, people on social media highlighted how Truss shouldn’t be congratulating an ultra-conservative leader who rallies against the LGBTQ+ community, opposes adoption by queer couples, rejects “mass immigration” and says she’s against the so-called “violence of Islam”. 

Several people also described Giorgia Meloni and her party as “fascist”. Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia has been called neo or post-fascist because it is a political descendent of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), which was formed by supporters of dictator Benito Mussolini.

Meloni was reportedly a teenager when she praised the fascist leader and said Mussolini was a “good politician” because of “everything” he “did for Italy”. She later said the dictator had made “mistakes”. 

Meloni has never fully spurned her party’s post-fascist roots. The Fratelli d’Italia logo still features a tricolour flame design that was formerly used by the MSI, and Meloni has rejected calls to change the logo while claiming there is “no room for nostalgic attitudes of fascism” in her party.  

People on social media questioned Liz Truss’ decision to congratulate Giorgia Meloni given her party’s historical ties to fascism and current far-right political agenda. 

Gianluca Passarelli, a professor of political science at Rome’s Sapienza University, told BBC that Giorgia Meloni’s “party is not fascist” but cannot escape its political roots. 

“Fascism means to get power and destroy the system,” Passarelli said. “She won’t do that and she couldn’t.”

Passarelli added there are “wings in the party linked to the neo-fascist movement” and that Meloni has “always played somehow in-between”.  

Meloni is primed to take charge as Italy’s first female prime minister as she leads a coalition of allied conservative parties. The alliance will give Italy’s right-wing political groups an advantage over more left-leaning parties in the country’s parliament. 

Meloni’s historic positions on social and political issues have led observers to fear the European country will be under the control of the far-right for the first time since Mussolini was toppled in 1943