ITV News' Europe Editor James Mates analyses Ms Meloni's win from Rome
Italy is poised to appoint its most far-right government since World War Two after Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party's coalition surged to election victory.
Her party led a right-wing coalition that netted them 44% of the parliamentary vote, coming far ahead of their competition.
The result puts the coalition in a position to form Italy's next government, and leaves Ms Meloni poised to become the country's first female premier.
Italy's lurch to the right after years of more centrist rule will immediately shake up EU geopolitics, with a Euroskeptic party now set to lead the bloc's third largest economy.
Right-wing leaders across Europe immediately hailed the coalition's victory and Ms Meloni's party’s meteoric rise as sending a historic message to Brussels.
Ms Meloni proudly touts her roots as a militant in the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, or MSI, which was formed in the aftermath of WWII with the remnants of Mussolini’s fascist supporters. Ms Meloni joined in 1992 as a 15-year-old.
During the campaign, Ms Meloni was forced to respond after the Democrats used her party’s origins to paint Ms Meloni as a danger to democracy.In her first speech after her victory became clear Ms Meloni sounded a moderate, unifying tone that noted that Italians had finally been able to clearly determine who they wanted to govern.
Turnout was a historic low of 64%. Analysts suggested voters stayed home in part in protest and also because they were disenchanted by the backroom deals that had created the three governments since the previous election.These unstable coalitions have collapsed quickly only for former rivals to form new regimes without calling an election.
Analysts believe the Brothers of Italy have been boosted because they took no part in the backroom government building, which has tarnished the reputation of all the other main parties.
The country has been led by former President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi since February 2021 who was brought in as a technocrat to unify the government during the midst of the Covid pandemic.
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His government collapsed in July after the powerful Five-Star movement withdrew its support.
Five-Star saw its vote share collapse from 30% in the previous election to 15% this time round.
The election of Ms Meloni comes at a crucial time for Europe with the war in Ukraine and subsequent energy crisis creating major challenges for the bloc.
A Meloni-led government is largely expected to follow Italy’s current foreign policy, including her pro-NATO stance and strong support for supplying Ukraine with weapons to defend against Russia’s invasion, even as her coalition allies stake a slightly different tone.The biggest challenge for the EU will likely be Italy's new anti-migration stance.
Ms Meloni has called for a naval blockade to prevent migrant boats from leaving North African shores, and has proposed screening potential asylum-seekers in Africa, before they set out on smugglers’ boats to Europe.