Global Review – 25th September

 Meloni tipped to become Italy’s first female Prime Minister

Almost 51 million citizens are called to the polls: over 46 million in Italy, more than four millionabroad. The city that boasts the largest number of votders is Rome: about two million. Giorgia Meloni has successfully rebranded her Fratelli d’Italia party as the country’s dominant conservative force, without fully expunging its post-fascist roots. Her right-wing coalition is forecast to glide into power after today’s general election, making her the favourite to become Italy’s first female prime minister – and its first far-right premier of the postwar era. The new darling of the Italian right summed up her personal brand in a now-famous tirade at a rally in 2019, which went viral after it was remixed into a dance music track: “I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am Christian,” a fired-up Meloni told supporters in central Rome. “No one will take that away from me.” The phrase has become a leitmotif of Meloni’s astonishing rise from the leader of a fringe party with roots in Italy’s post-fascist right wing to the country’s likely next leader. Meanwhile, the big real unknown about the vote is that of the turnout:  many wonder if this time the 27% who abstained during the last general election would reach 32%.

Electoral silence violated on social media

The traditional day of electoral silence in which, citizens were able to stop for a few hours and choose the preference to be expressed at the polls, has been broken. On social media, to break the silence, were the Lega and Fratelli d’Italia which ignited the latest controversy with the Democratic Party(PD): the presence of some flags with the hammer and sickle during the closing event of the PD in Piazza del Popolo. Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta did not respond to the controversies raised by the centre-right and, interviewed by the Spanish newspaper ‘El Mundo’ he reiterated how “the centre-right fiscal project is dangerous”. Then, later, again Matteo Salvini, also online, published some tweets in which he illustrated the voting methods. The same was done by Forza Italia president Silvio Berlusconi, whpo told voters: “You vote only by making an ‘X’ against the symbol of Forza Italia!”.

More flexibility in electricity cuts

Europe is preparing for energy rationing but could make savings mechanisms more flexible. The latest draft of the “compromise”, compiled by energy ministers under the Czech presidency, introduces a couple of changes compared to the European Commission’s proposal. EU governments could now choose for the mandatory cut in electricity consumption and on the calculation of the solidarity contribution for energy companies. They are now asked to cover “at least 7% of peak hours” over the entire December-March period. And the extra-profits of the fossil companies are instead calculated on the basis of the profits of four years, starting from 2018, as against the period 2019-2021 as had been proposed by Brussels.

Pope signs pact on ‘ peace economy’

Pope Francis, in Assisi for the Economy of Francesco event, signed “a pact” with the young economists, entrepreneurs and changemakers who committed themselves to build “an economy of peace and not of war, an economy that contrasts the proliferation of weapons, especially the most destructive ones, an economy that takes care of creation and does not rob man, an economy at the service of the person, the family and life, respectful of every woman, man, child, elderly person and above all of the most fragile and vulnerable – an economy where care replaces waste and indifference, an economy that leaves no one behind”. Young people also look to “an economy that creates wealth for all, that generates joy and not just well-being because unshared happiness is too little”. Earlier, the Pontiff, speaking of the fact that there are no children, highlighted “the slavery of women: a woman who cannot be a mother because she, as soon as she begins to feel her belly, they throw her out. Pregnant women are not alloed to work,” he said. 

Marches in Europe in support of Iran protests

Several hundred Iranians living in France gathered in Paris to protest against the repression of the Tehran government on the demonstrations triggered by the death in custody of a young woman arrested by the moral police for not having correctly worn the veil. In Paris, demonstrators chanted slogans against Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and urged French President Emmanuel Macron to end the dialogue with Tehran. Demonstrations of solidarity with the protest in Iran also took place elsewhere in Europe, notably in Stockholm and Athens.

‘We take Putin’s nuclear threat seriously’ – Borrell 

The war in Ukraine enters it 214th day with notable developments: Speaking to the BBC EU’s Josep Borrell warns: “We take Putin’s nuclear threat seriously”. The day after the opening of the polls for the referendum of annexation to theRussia, Kiev and the West lash out against the Kremlin’s initiative in the breakaway republics of Donbass and in the occupied territories. US President Joe Biden joins Ukrainian President Zelensky in defining a “farce” the popular consultation promoted by Moscow and, together with NATO and G7, affirm that “they will never be recognized”. Turkey also intervenes: “We will not recognise a Russian referendum on annexation.” Budapest: “We will continue to grant Schengen visas to Russians.”. Izyum: the exhumation of the inhabitants killed by the Russians and thrown into the mass grave has been completed: 447 bodies were found, including those of five children. A Russian missile on a residential building in Zaporizhzhia killed an unknown number of residents. NGO Odv-Info reports over 700 people were arrested in 32 cities by the Russian authorities in protests against the mobilisation of reservists decreed this week by President Putin.

Harsher penalties for Russians who surrender or desert

Tass reports Russian President Putin has signed a package of amendments to the penal code relating to military service. Desertion or failure to appear for military service is punishable by imprisonment from five to 10 years. Those who voluntarily surrender to the enemy will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years. In addition, 15 years’ imprisonment are foreseen for desertion during mobilisation or martial law.

‘The Russophobia of the West is unprecedented’ – Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Serghei Lavrov told the UN General Assembly that “the Russophobia of the West is unprecedented”. He added that “instead of dialogue we must face the disinformation and lies of the West that undermine trust in international law and international institutions”. Lavrov said, “In Washington there is a dictatorship and Europe is subjugated. Diplomacy is replaced by illegal sanctions. The US and its allies do not give anyone freedom, it is not democracy.”

Hurricane Fiona causes ‘terrifying’ destruction in Canada

Hurricane Fiona has slammed into eastern Canada, dragging homes out to sea, turning buildings into piles of rubble and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. The powerful weather system could be one of the strongest storms that Canada has ever experienced, according to forecasters who described it as “a historic, extreme event”. After smashing Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and battering Newfoundland, it moved to the Gulf of St Lawrence. Two women were dragged into the sea in Newfoundland, one was rescued but the other is still missing.

89 migrants dead in the shipwreck off Syria

At least 89 migrants from Lebanon drowned off the Syrian coast after their boat sank, said SANA, the official Damascus news agency. According to Syrian authorities, around 150 people, mostly Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian refugees, were aboard the small boat that sank Thursday off the western Syrian port city of Tartous. This is the deadliest shipwreck in recent years between Syria and Lebanon.

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