Neofascist “Thugs,” Pandemic Protests, Populisms: Giorgia Meloni’s Cerchiobottismo and the Rise of Fratelli D’Italia During the Pandemic

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In this essay, I examine the rise to power of Fratelli d’Italia (FdI), the populist far right Italian party led by Giorgia Meloni, in the 2022 election. I first situate FdI’s victory in the complex context of the Italian experience of the pandemic—exploring the erosion of the democratic sentiment in Italy after COVID-19 and the mutual influences of crises and the shaky anti-establishment and anti-intellectual epistemologies of populisms. I then proceed to examine Meloni’s recurring rhetorical strategy to deal with FdI’s problematic relationship to fascist heritage during the electoral campaign. Specifically, I analyse Meloni’s rhetorical maneuvers as instances of cerchiobottismo. Cerchiobottismo is an Italian term that explains the practice of strategic ambiguity typical of seasoned politicians that can juggle two sides, telling both sides that they are partially wrong, without compromising too much of the rhetor’s own position. In the second part of this essay, I unpack Meloni’s cerchiobottista rhetorics in a set of three significant examples in relation to the 2022s election and the controversies over fascism to illustrate how Meloni rejected the repeated public accusations of fascist nostalgia in her party, while boosting FdI’s electoral appeal among a moderate electorate and also reassuring international stakeholders.
TidsskriftJavnost - The Public
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)51-66
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 2023

ID: 334262549