As returns showed her heading to victory, Giorgia Meloni appeared to try to tone down her nationalist messaging in an effort to reassure wary EU and international partners.
Far-right politician Giorgia Meloni appears set to become Italy's first female prime minister, after near final results showed her Euroskeptic party with neo-fascist roots winning the country's parliamentary elections.
“If we are called to govern this nation, we will do it for everyone. We will do it for all Italians, and we will do it with the aim of uniting the people [of this country],” Meloni said in her victory speech following the September 25 polls that saw record low turnout.
Meloni has downplayed the neo-fascist origins of her Brothers of Italy party, which took more than 26 percent of the vote and which she casts as mainstream and center-right.
The 45-year-old now faces the task of forming a ruling coalition with the help of right-wing and center-right allies, who as a bloc took about 44 percent of the vote.
The coalition poised to take control of both chambers of parliament includes parties whose leaders have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and who have questioned the backlash against Moscow following its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who heads the center-right Forza party, said just days before the vote that "Putin was pushed" by his cabinet, party, and the Russian people into invading Ukraine in February.
Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing League party, has expressed concerns that EU sanctions against Russia could end up hurting Italy's economic interests.
Meloni has been a staunch supporter of supplying Ukraine with weapons to defend itself and has pledged to back Western policy opposing Russia's war against Ukraine.
She has been critical of “Brussels bureaucrats,” however, and recently defended Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban against EU concerns about a democratic backslide and corruption in his country, which the European Parliament recently classified as an "electoral autocracy."
As returns showed her heading to victory, Meloni appeared to try to tone down her nationalist messaging in an effort to reassure wary EU and international partners.
“This is the time for being responsible,” Meloni said on live television, describing the situation for Italy and the European Union as “particularly complex.”
Right-wing politicians from Germany, France, and Poland were quick to congratulate Meloni on her apparent victory.
Meloni's coalition government is not expected to be installed before the end of October, leaving caretaker prime minister Mario Draghi as head of the government for now.