Political cheat sheet: Understanding the Brothers of Italy

Elaine Allaby
Elaine Allaby - [email protected]
Political cheat sheet: Understanding the Brothers of Italy
Supporters of Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party hold banners featuring the tricolour flame. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

After triumphing in the September 2022 elections, Giorgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy party is now set to face its first major popularity test in the upcoming regional elections in Lazio and Lombardy. But who are they, and what policies do they back?


After securing 26 percent of the vote in the September elections, Meloni's Brothers of Italy is largely expected to once again overpower the opposition in the upcoming regional vote in Lazio and Lombardy.

READ ALSO: Italian PM faces popularity test in regional votes

Here’s a quick guide to Italy’s far-right Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia, or FdI), its history, policies, support, and key figures.



The Brothers of Italy was formed in 2012, but traces its origins right back to the end of World War II.

In 1946, a group of Mussolini’s allies – most of whom had been members of the Italian Social Republic, the final incarnation of Mussolini’s Italian Fascist regime – founded the neofascist Italian Social Movement (Movimento Sociale Italiano, or MSI).

READ ALSO: Is Brothers of Italy a ‘far right’ party?

In 1995, MSI merged with more mainstream right-wing elements to become the National Alliance (Alleanza Nazionale, or AN), which publicly distanced itself from fascism. AN was absorbed into Berlusconi’s centre-right People of Freedom party in 2009, but in 2012 a breakaway group formed mainly of former AN leaders – including current FdI leader Giorgia Meloni – left to found Brothers of Italy.

These origins, and the fact that Brothers of Italy espouses far-right ideologies while rejecting the label of fascism, means the party is often described by news outlets (including this one) as ‘post-fascist’. 

Giorgia Meloni speaking at a campaign rally on September 20th. Her Brothers of Italy party is set to lead the first far-right Italian government in modern history after coming elections. Photo by Igor PETYX / ANSA / AFP


Brothers of Italy is anti-immigrant, anti-gay marriage, and pro the traditional family unit, with leader Giorgia Meloni promoting a public image herself as a “woman, mother, Christian” whose mission is to defend “God, country and family”.

Many of the party’s policies are pro-natalist and aimed at combatting Italy’s plummeting birthrate, which Meloni has described as “a true emergency”. They include increased child benefits; reducing VAT rates on nappies, baby bottles and formula; free childcare provision, and incentivising employers to hire new mothers.

In the lead up to the 2022 elections, Meloni posted repeatedly on her social media accounts calling for a “naval blockade” to “put an end to illegal departures to Italy”. The party also wants to create offshore “hotspots” to process asylum applications outside the EU.

Meloni calls for a 'naval blockade' as "the only way to stop illegal immigration" in an August 2022 Facebook post. Meloni calls for a 'naval blockade' as "the only way to stop illegal immigration" in an August 2022 Facebook post.

On Russia, the Brothers of Italy is firmly pro-Ukraine. This puts it somewhat at odds with its right-wing coalition partner the League party, whose leader Matteo Salvini has called on the EU to “rethink” its sanctions on Russia on multiple occasions.


Meloni has always furiously denied that Brothers of Italy is fascist. This is despite the fact that FdI decided to keep the tricolour flame, the original symbol of the MSI, in its logo, and that up until 2017 the logo also featured the letters ‘MSI’. A 2021 undercover investigation by the Italian news outlet Fanpage showed footage of (among other things) various FdI leaders trading fascist jokes and Roman salutes.

In a multilingual video message directed at the foreign press, Meloni implied that her party is not dissimilar to the UK Conservatives or the US Republican party. In practice, its sympathies tend much further right: Meloni has said she “gets on very well” with Hungary's Viktor Orban, and last June spoke at a rally held by the far-right Spanish party Vox.

Salvini and Meloni at a press conference in Cernobbio, near Como, northern Italy, on September 4, 2022. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)


The Brothers of Italy has seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the last four years, going from winning just four percent of the vote in the 2018 elections to securing 26 percent in the September 2022 elections.

This was mainly down to strategic nous on Meloni’s part, particularly her choice to remain in opposition and stay out of Mario Draghi's previous 'unity' government, which her coalition partners the League and Forza Italia were a part of.


Giorgia Meloni was named Italy's first female PM in October. Five months after the swearing-in ceremony, Brothers of Italy is still the largest party in the country in terms of support.

In this graph of Italian political opinion polls from March 2018 to September 2022, the Brothers of Italy are marked in dark blue. In this graph of Italian political opinion polls from March 2018 to September 2022, the Brothers of Italy are marked in dark blue. Graph: Impru20/Wikimedia Commons

Big Names

Giorgia Meloni

Meloni started her career as a teenage activist with the youth wing of MSI. In 2006, as an MP for the National Alliance, she told a reporter in an interview for Corriere Magazine that she had a "serene relationship with fascism" as a chapter in Italy's history, adding, "Mussolini made several mistakes... Historically he has also produced a lot, but this does not save him." Two years later, at 31, she was named minister for youth in Silvio Berlusconi’s government.

READ ALSO: PROFILE: Who is Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s new prime minister?

Meloni has on multiple occasions sought to distance herself from her earlier comments, saying FdI has "no room for nostalgic attitudes” and asserting that “the Italian right has handed fascism over to history for decades now”. 


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saramillerlmp 2022/09/07 14:45
Fellow American and I couldn't agree with dagdavid more. Don't Italians see that they're being emotionally manipulated? And don't they see how that has worked out in the past?
dagdavid11 2022/09/06 20:05
As an American who recently purchased a property in Italy, it makes me extremely sad to see the Italians falling victim to their worst instincts. We did it here in 2016 and it nearly destroyed our country. Your economy will suffer and that is the last thing you need right not.

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