Italy’s PM Meloni solidifies top spot in EU vote -exit poll

By Thomson Reuters Jun 9, 2024 | 4:14 PM

ROME (Reuters) – Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s arch-conservative Brothers of Italy group won the most votes in this weekend’s European parliamentary election, exit polls said, confirming its status as Italy’s most popular party.

An exit poll for state broadcaster RAI said Brothers of Italy won between 26-30% of the vote, with the centre-left opposition Democratic Party (PD) coming second with 21-25%

The other main opposition party, the 5-Star Movement, was seen on 10-14%, while Forza Italia, founded by the late Silvio Berlusconi, was in fourth place on 8.5-10.5%, potentially beating its old ally, the far-right League, which was on 8-10%.

Brothers of Italy won just 6.4% of the vote in the last EU ballot in 2019, but jumped ahead of all other parties in 2022 national elections, when it took 26%, with Italians seeing Meloni as a no-nonsense, straight-talking leader.

Her party traces its roots back to a neo-fascist group and her 2022 victory set the tone for far-right gains across Europe, including in the June 6-9 EU ballot, which has seen the continent swing sharply right.

Meloni governs in Rome with the centre-right Forza Italia and the League, presenting this as a model for the next EU government in Brussels, where Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will need to build consensus to secure a second term.

If confirmed, the PD result would represent a good score for its leader Elly Schlein, who took charge of the party in 2023 and has struggled to impose her will on the old guard. The PD won 19% in 2022 and Schlein was anxious to improve on that.

The one disappointment for all parties this weekend was the turnout, which was expected to come in at around or even beneath 50% — a record low in a country that has had historically strong voter participation.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Crispian Balmer)