NeverEnding Story: Elon Musk attending Giorgia Meloni’s fantasy party

Elon Musk and VOX’s leader Santiago Abascal will be among the guests attending Giorgia Meloni’s bizarre 4-day fantasy-themed Christmas party, “Atreju”, which celebrates Italy’s conservative youth.


This year, Giorgia Meloni’s Christmas party for young conservatives, called “Atreju”, is going to have a little more sparkle than the festival had in the past 26 years.

Back in 1998, Meloni was not a well-known figure in Italian politics. But as the head of the Rome branch of Azione Giovani (the youth section of the now defunct Alleanza Nazionale party), she created a nationwide event dedicated to celebrating the country’s conservative youth.

The event was named by Meloni after Atreyu, one of the main characters of the 1984 fantasy film “The NeverEnding Story.”

For those who already know about Meloni’s obsession with the fantasy genre, which she consistently interprets through her right-wing lens, this name won’t be surprising. 

Neither would be the fact that she got the idea to create Atreju after attending Hobbit Camp in the 1990s, a Woodstock-like retreat organised by the post-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano party for young people to celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien’s books.

But this edition of this right-wing fantasy festival, which will run from Thursday 14 December to Sunday 17 December, and is now backed by Meloni’s party Brothers of Italy, will be different from the ones that have come before.

First of all, Meloni is no longer at the fringe of Italian politics, but right at its top. Second, Meloni’s new role has allowed her to attract some high-profile guest stars to her bizarre, fantasy-themed event, including tech billionaire Elon Musk and leader of Spanish populist party Vox Santiago Abascal, recently at the centre of a nasty controversy.

What’s the festival about?

According to Piero Garofalo, Professor of Italian Studies at the University of New Hampshire in the US, Atreju is “less a political convention than a partisan political event.” The festival, which this year will have a Christmas village and an ice rink, features youth-oriented concerts, exhibits, debates, and humour and has a focus on socialising rather than just talking politics.

The theme of this year’s edition is ‘Bentornato orgoglio italiano’ (‘Welcome Back Italian Pride’),” a title that’s perfectly in line with Meloni’s electoral manifesto and constant mantra. And while the event has kept its traditional social, jovial nature, its political importance is undeniable this year.

“Today, with Giorgia Meloni’s political ascent and Brothers of Italy’s recent electoral successes, Atreju has gained increasing importance by [previously] attracting high-profile guests – like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon – and media attention,” Garofalo tells Euronews.

“The festival now serves as a platform to showcase Giorgia Meloni’s international stature and the Italian right’s integration into the international community,” he added. 

Who’s going to attend?

The guest list of the party is a who’s who of the European and international right.

Among the most prominent guests, there are Elon Musk, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, and Spanish leader of the far-right Vox party, Santiago Abascal.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, “who shares with Giorgia Meloni unorthodox approaches to addressing the influx of migrants, will apparently meet with Premier Meloni on Saturday morning during the festival though not necessarily at the festival,” Garofalo says.

According to Garofalo, participation at Atreju does not automatically signal solidarity with or support for Giorgia Meloni.

“For example, several leaders of opposition parties, including Matteo Renzi, Carlo Calenda, Angelo Bonelli, and Michele Emiliano, will also attend the festival in the hope of attracting votes and making themselves relevant,” he says.

“Indeed, participation signals the increasing importance and visibility that the Atreju platform provides speakers. That said, beyond the attendees, who will likely exceed 100,000, and the extensive media coverage (due in large part to the prominent guests) over the next four days, Atreju is not an event followed with particular interest by the general public although it will certainly take centre-stage this week,” he added.

Notably, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, has declined Meloni’s invitation to the festival.


What’s with ‘The NeverEnding Story’?

The Italian rendering of the name Atreju is an homage to the dragon-riding warrior protagonist of the 1979 German fantasy novel, The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, Garofalo explains.

The novel became a Hollywood hit in 1984 and made more than $100 million at the global box office. It was particularly successful in Germany where five million people flocked to the cinema to watch the epic fantasy movie, which featured special effects which were groundbreaking at the time. 

“This name was chosen because, for the event’s organisers, the fantasy character represents committed youth who in the eternal battle between good and evil resist nihilism to preserve ideals,” he says.

Giorgia Meloni underscored the novel’s importance in a 2019 Facebook post commemorating the 40th anniversary of the novel’s publication, writing: “A very significant novel that marked my childhood. Atreju’s struggle and victory against The Nothing, an enemy trying to wear down the imagination of youth by stripping it of values, still represents an inspiring symbol today. With this model in mind, I have always carried forward my political passion!.”

“The Neverending Story” and Atreyu are far from the first fantasy novels and heroes that Meloni has co-opted for her political use. During her long career, she has often mentioned J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”, which was the subject of a major exhibition in Rome this year.


Among Meloni’s fantasy idols, there is also George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” and the manga character and space pirate Captain Harlock. 

Playing into an old tradition

“The fascination with and appropriation of the fantasy genre by the post-fascist far-right pre-dates Giorgia Meloni and emerges as a recognisable phenomenon in 1970s Italy,” Garofalo explains. “Italian nationalists positioned themselves as a small fellowship of truth-holders who stand against an overwhelming obfuscating force that enshrouds society.”

Fantasy narratives provide vivid oppositions to and rejections of the modern world, according to Garofalo, depicting “as noble the struggles of traditional societies to preserve an idealised past against the threats of change embodied by external forces.”

In this context, Meloni’s appropriation of fantasy symbolism in the political discourse plays into this tradition “precisely because it provides a teleological rationale for political actions whose immediate effects are not recognizably relatable to long-term goals,” Garofalo says.

“When the symbol is real, the end result is real. As Giorgia Meloni has stated: ‘I don’t consider The Lord of the Rings fantasy’.”


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Scorecard: What has Giorgia Meloni achieved in her first year as PM?

It’s been a year since Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right party Brothers of Italy, became the country’s first female prime minister, at the head of a coalition government – but what have they achieved?


It’s been 12 months since Giorgia Meloni, a controversial politician who for years had been a vocal member of the opposition within her post-fascist party Brothers of Italy, became the country’s first woman to cover the role of prime minister.

The worst fears raised after last year’s election results have not turned into reality: the country has not turned its back on Ukraine to embrace a more pro-Putin stance or made any moves to leave the European Union. Any references to Brother of Italy’s fascist roots have been down-played, and Meloni has significantly dialled back her own vitriol against immigrants.

But, as much as the fears that followed the establishment of the most hard-right government in Italy since World War II, many of the changes promised by Meloni have also largely failed to materialise.

Here’s Euronews’ scorecard for the Italian premier’s first year in government. Meloni made a total of 25 promises in her government’s programme, which we’ve grouped by topic.

Stopping illegal immigration: Fail

One of Brother of Italy’s electoral promises was to defend “the country’s frontiers” by creating a naval blockade off the coast of North Africa, an idea that has re-emerged in recent months as the country faced a surge in migrant arrivals on its shores.

This promise, clearly, has not been turned into reality – possibly because it’s legally tricky to implement, if not outright illegal.

A naval blockade can only be created unilaterally by a state in cases of legitimate defence when a war or an act of aggression from another country is involved – situations that don’t apply to the current circumstances.

Italy is not at war with either Libya or Tunisia, the countries of origin of most arrivals and with which the Italian government has actually forged agreements to curb migration.

In general, Meloni’s promises to curb migration have largely failed, leading to the premier’s admission that she had hoped to do better than she actually did.

By mid-October, more than 140,000 migrant arrivals had been registered by Italy’s Interior Ministry so far this year, compared to 70,000 in the same period last year.

But that doesn’t mean that Meloni’s government hasn’t tried to keep its electoral promises – including targeting NGOs which “encourage illegal immigration,” as Brothers of Italy wrote in its programme.

Since the autumn of last year, Meloni’s government has restricted the activities of NGOs and rescue ships, and struck a controversial deal with Tunisia’s President Kais Saied to assist the country in stemming migration. It has also made it easier to evict migrants from the country and send them back to “safe countries” like Tunisia.

For Meloni’s critics, human rights and migrant rights activists, that’s enough harm done.

Spending EU funds promised to Italy: In progress

In 2020, the European Union made available a huge fund of €191.5 billion to Italy to get back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic, called the National Recovery and Resilience Plan or PNRR.

Meloni promised to spend this huge sum without delays and without any waste of money on projects aimed at reforming and updating Italy’s infrastructure. But in April her government was still struggling to find ways to spend the EU funds due to Italy’s elephantine bureaucracy and delays at local levels.

While Meloni’s government has indeed started spending some of the EU funds already transferred, inefficiencies at every level of the process made it so that a big slice of the PNRR was still being withheld by the EU this summer.

In late July, Meloni presented a new plan to Brussels to spend the promised money – but the premier is facing an uphill battle before she can spend the entire €191.5 billion promised.

Supporting Italian families and encouraging new births: Pass/In progress

This was the very first point in Meloni’s party’s programme: to increase Italy’s birth rate and support couples wishing to build a family. By this, of course, Meloni meant the traditional, heteronormative family.


The party had promised up to €300 a month for every family during the first year of a child’s birth; and up to €260 between the second year and the child’s 18th birthday.

This is something that the Meloni government is still partially working on, having already introduced cheques for families with children but also planning new policies in this direction. In its latest budgetary plan, the government has included one billion euros to be assigned to projects supporting new births in Italy.

New measures include a cheque for families having a third child, fringe benefits up to €2,000 for families with kids, an extra month of parental leave paid at 60% of a worker’s salary and tax deductions for companies hiring new mothers.

“She’s introduced tax benefits and checks for families proportionally to the number of children that they have,” Marianna Griffini, Assistant Professor at Northeastern University London and an expert in Italian politics, told Euronews.

“Meloni even participated in Hungary’s summit on demography. She met with Viktor Orban and she was acclaimed as an ideologue by the Hungarian leader, so she’s definitely doubling down on the importance of the traditional family.”


Other, less traditional types of families have on the other hand been punished by the Meloni government, with surrogacy having been made illegal for Italians even outside of the country. During the past year, queer parents across the country have seen their names removed from their children’s certificate, as Italy passed a law saying that only the biological parent of a child can appear on it.

Promoting “Made in Italy,” boosting Italian pride, and relaunching tourism: Pass

Meloni’s government definitely kept its promise to defend the concept of “Made in Italy” and try to boost Italian pride, though that doesn’t mean these efforts received international approval.

Earlier this year, the government pushed forward a controversial measure defending the Italian language and identity against the contamination of English words. The legal initiative would punish the use of foreign words in official communication with fines between €5,000 and €100,000.

“They did very well on this, I think,” said Professor Griffini laughing. “They tried to interfere with linguistic choices, and then they invested in the cultural sector with that ‘fabulous’ project boosting tourism, Open to Meraviglia.”

The project was largely mocked online for putting Botticelli’s Venus in the clothes of a 21st-century influencer as well as for using footage of Slovenia to advertise tourism in Italy. The ad campaign was dead in the water just a few months after launching, sparking an investigation in Italy about potential abuses of public money.


Changing Italy’s constitution for the direct election of the country’s president: Fail

One of the promises of Meloni’s party was to fight political instability in Italy by changing the country’s constitution and giving more powers to the president – making Italian politics look a lot more like French politics. With the constitutional reform suggested by Meloni, the Italian president would be elected directly, unlike now, and be a powerful head of state rather than a largely symbolic figure.

Meloni floated this idea earlier this year, but the initiative was strongly opposed by the centre-left opposition, which fears having too much power in a single person.

“They haven’t done much on this, they haven’t done anything on it, actually,” Griffini said. It’s unlikely that Meloni will make more progress on this issue in the coming months and years as opposition is unlikely to dwindle.

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‘Weapon of mass distraction’: What’s up with Italy’s oddball policies?

First came a controversial crackdown on rave parties. Then, a ban on the much-debated ChatGPT chatbot, the first of its kind across the world, followed by a ban on synthetic meat. Finally, a plan to issue hefty fines for using English words in official communications — which many people initially thought was an April Fool’s joke, but turned out to be real. 

After Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government pushed forward a series of unlikely policies in the past few months, some people have been left scratching their heads wondering: what’s really going on with Italy’s leadership, and these oddball policies?

Francesco Strazzari, professor in International Relations at the Pisa-based Scuola Universitaria Superiore Sant’Anna, told Euronews that the recent wave of improbable legislation passed by Meloni’s government is “a weapon of mass distraction.”

As Italy faces serious issues which are currently shared with many European countries, like a lingering energy and cost-of-living crisis and a growing flow of migration to its southern shores, these somewhat petty legislative initiatives have the ability to spark endless debates on social media and among the Italian public – even if only to ridicule the government.

“Every time Meloni’s government is in a difficult moment, it comes up with controversial policies which have the power of deflecting attention from its poor performance and its disastrous policies,” Strazzari said.

What bigger issues hide behind these “shallow policies”?

When the Italian government passed a law banning illegal rave parties last November, it did so despite the fact there was no urgency for such a law, Strazzari told Euronews, as the issue didn’t pose an immediate challenge to the country and could have been solved in due time. 

“But there was a strong attempt to inflate the ban, in terms of public attention, in the face of looming danger — a new law surrounding the search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean, around which there were already strong arguments,” Strazzari said.

Shortly after the rave ban, Meloni’s government passed a law forbidding NGOs’ search and rescue ships from embarking on more than one operation at a time and forcing them to disembark in the harbours indicated by authorities, which Strazzari said they’re usually “very remote.” 

This decree-law, which significantly limits the operation capacity of NGOs’ search and rescue ships, has already caused tense situations in the Mediterranean between NGOs and Italian authorities.

The most recent policies surrounding ChatGPT, synthetic meat, and the use of English and foreign words in official communications came at a time when a very serious debate around the country’s prison system and sentences is unfolding in Italy, rekindled by inmate Alfredo Cospito’s hunger strike.

According to Strazzari, the harsh punishment imposed on Cospito, an Italian anarchist serving a strict prison regime usually reserved for mafia bosses, is “very controversial in terms of international norms, because in rule-of-law countries the severity of a sentence has to be measured in terms of time length, not imprisonment conditions.”

But instead of addressing complex, long-term challenges like the ones posed by Cospito’s hunger strike or migrant arrivals on the Italian shores, Meloni’s government has focused its legislative efforts on a series of policies “in the name of cultural nationalism, […] an idea of the nation as something that is not negotiable, that exists in purity in some idyllic past, against contamination from migrants, anarchists, and the food industry,” said Strazzari.

The debate around these nationalist policies once again works as a distraction from much more consequential — and controversial — new laws that Meloni’s government is trying to pass — like a bill criminalising surrogacy done abroad.

Last month, the Italian parliament started discussing a controversial law which would extend Italy’s long-standing surrogacy ban on couples travelling abroad for the procedure to countries like the US, Canada, and India. Under the proposed law, sponsored by Brothers of Italy and the League, those found seeking a surrogate mother for their babies abroad could be imprisoned for a time between three months and two years or face fines between 600,000 and 1 million euros. 

For same-sex couples trying to have a baby through surrogacy, the law would be extremely damaging.

A sovereign push that’s likely to put Italy against the European Union

The recent controversial policies introduced by Meloni’s government are not only a game of smoke and mirrors: these legislative efforts are also “well in line with the party’s ideology,” Marianna Griffini, lecturer in the Department of European and International Studies at King’s College London, told Euronews. 

“Meloni’s party is one pushing for Italy’s sovereignty, and these policies are sending the message: ‘Do not interfere with our domestic affairs,’ even if it’s only about cultural affairs, cultural sovereignty,” she said. The recipient of this message? The EU.

Italy’s ban on synthetic meat, Griffini said, can be seen as a way for Italy to reclaim sovereignty over the EU for matters related to its food, after the EU had already given the green light to lab-grown meat in the bloc.

Griffini isn’t the only one to see it this way. For Strazzari, Meloni’s government’s “ridiculous” policies “mobilising shallow calls to national identity and national rhetoric” all lead in the direction of a sovereign push whose ultimate goal is to wriggle out of the European Union’s control — following the footsteps of Poland and Hungary.

“There’s a clear way in which Meloni is trying to benefit from the shifting of the very centre of European politics towards the East with the war in Ukraine […], a shift which has given more gravity to Poland and Hungary,” Strazzari said. “[These countries] are second to no one when it comes to social conservatism and nationalism — especially Poland, with its stress on the traditional family and Catholicism.”

Because of its anti-LGBT policies, Poland has entered in contrast with the EU over the question of the primacy of national law over EU law — an issue that has been raised by Meloni before she even came into power last year.

In 2018, when Meloni was still in the opposition, the far-right politician was the first signatory of a legislative proposal which asked for modifying two articles of the Italian constitution which state that Italy recognises the primacy of European law over national law. “That proposal is still there,” Strazzari said. “It hasn’t been discussed but it hasn’t been withdrawn either — it’s kind of frozen there.”

According to Strazzari, there’s now “an attempt to find congruence” in Italy with Poland and Hungary in terms of introducing nationalist policies which have the potential to go against the EU’s recognised fundamental rights. The proposed surrogacy ban is an example of this initiative.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani, who served as president of the European Parliament from 2017 and 2019, recently commented on the European Parliament’s criticism of Meloni’s government for the introduction of a law that could ban surrogacy for Italians travelling abroad to have the procedure saying  that “Italy’s regulations are made in Italy, not in Brussels.”

“It’s quite a stunning declaration on the part of someone who was the head of the European Parliament and knows pretty well what are the prerogatives of the EU Parliament, which is elected by Italians, among others. We delegate parts of our sovereignty to that Parliament,” Strazzari said. “But this statement was rather blunt in rejecting criticism coming from the Parliament. […] This raises alert from a European point of view.”

But Griffini sees Meloni’s government’s sovereign efforts simply as “symbolic battles” rather than a real attempt to rebel against the EU. “There is too much at stake,” Griffini said. “There are the famous national recovery and resilience plan’s funds at stake, so I don’t think that the relationship with the EU will come to the point of outward hostility.”

Italy’s recovery plan, which followed the unprecedented crisis of the pandemic, consists of 132 investments and 58 reforms and is supported by €68.9 billion in grants and €122.6 billion in loans to the country.

“Italy still needs this money,” Griffini said. 

“During her campaign, Meloni turned down her Euro-scepticism, and a glaring example of this is that her first state visit was to the EU, when she met Ursula von der Leyen. It’s unlikely that she will fully rebel against the EU. These policies seem more symbolic than anything.”

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Giorgia Meloni’s first 100 days in office: What has Italy’s PM done?

Giorgia Meloni was voted into office last October to the sound of alarm bells ringing across Europe.

As a far-right leader with a bone to pick with the EU, her landslide election perturbed political commentators, who branded her with a range of incendiary epithets: “Eurosceptic”, “radical”, “demagogic”, even Europe’s “most dangerous woman”.

But now that Meloni marks her first 100 days as prime minister, how has her premiership measured up to such forecasts? 

Has she followed through on her election campaign mantra that “playtime is over” for Brussels, or has she opted for a meeker stance to ingratiate herself with Italy’s European allies?

Here is a list of some of Giorgia Meloni’s main steps since being elected: 

Cracking down on rave parties

Few would have guessed Meloni’s “playtime is over” motto would end up taking such a literal turn, but it seems her intent to halt the fun and games was no joke — indeed, one of her first decisions as PM was to pass an “anti-rave” decree cracking down on unauthorised mass parties.

Meloni and her government defended the decision — which sees organisers of such gatherings facing hefty fines and up to six years in prison — on the grounds that it was necessary measure to curb partygoers’ antics and align Italy’s rules to its European peers.

“We have shown that the state won’t turn a blind eye and fail to act when faced with law-breaking,” she said at a news conference. 

Critics, however, deemed the move a “distraction” from more pressing political problems and feared it could limit students’ freedom to protest.

Migrant feud with France

Shortly after taking office, Meloni found herself in hot waters after sparking a spat with France over a migrant rescue vessel.

In November, SOS Méditeranée’s Ocean Viking ship — which carried over 200 migrants — was rejected by Italy and subsequently forced to dock at the French port town of Toulon, provoking France’s ire.

It comes as little surprise that the PM’s first squabble would end up involving Italy’s westerly neighbour, given her own longstanding animosity towards French President Emmanuel Macron and his migration policy.

In a talk show in 2019, Meloni had decried France’s “exploitative” economic relationship with former colonies such as Burkina Faso, arguing that the solution to Africa’s problems was not “moving Africans to Europe”, but to “liberate Africa from certain Europeans.”

The premier has used her criticism of French imperialist activities to justify her anti-migration stance — indeed, prior to her election, she proposed a naval blockade to clamp down on migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

While such loaded language may have subsided as of late, Meloni’s iron-fisted rhetoric on migration has certainly not softened. Indeed, her latest decree directly targets and curbs non-governmental organisations’ lifesaving activities at sea.

But for all the grandstanding and bold predictions, the reality on the ground would point to her promises having fallen flat.

Statistics released by the interior ministry prove migrant boat arrivals have not only failed to slow down, but have grown dramatically since Meloni took office. The first ten days of the new year alone registered an 880% increase from 2022.

An EU-friendly budget

For weeks, Brussels officials waited with bated breath as Meloni’s cabinet deliberated its budget plan for 2023.

But concerns were alleviated when it was announced that the new government’s plans for Italy’s debt-ridden economy would be considerably closer to the EU line than some had expected.

The budget law — approved by parliament in record time — includes proposals such as €21 million tax breaks to relieve businesses from the burdens of the energy crisis, as well as fiscal incentives and a lower retirement age.

While some of the plan’s measures remained controversial — especially a higher cap on cash payments — it displayed a greater of restraint than what had been touted by Meloni’s right-wing bloc on the campaign trail.

Meloni herself subsequently embarked on a charm offensive with Brussels, courting EU President Ursula von der Leyen in her first foreign trip, a move analysts attribute to Italy’s dire need to receive its €190 billion EU post-COVID recovery funds — that itself entails a set of reforms.

“It would have been unthinkable for Meloni to risk missing out on this money. Failure would have been a tragedy,” noted Daniele Albertazzi, a politics professor at the University of Surrey told Reuters. 

“She behaved in the only way she could.”

Maintaining Italy’s support for Ukraine

Giorgia Meloni was sworn in on a promise that she would maintain her steadfast support to Ukraine as it fends off Russia’s invasion, and has certainly not rolled back on any of her pledges — to the satisfaction of Kyiv.

It appears Meloni has been willing to put her money where her mouth is, as further reports emerge that Italy and France are days away from finalising a deal to supply Ukraine with a SAMP/T “Mamba” air defence system.

The PM and her cabinet’s allegiance to Ukaine however, could not be taken for granted. 

Despite welcoming a large share of Ukraine’s refugees, Italy remains one of Western Europe’s most Russia-friendly countries. The burden of decades-long economic hardships and the scars of COVID-19 have left many Italians reluctant to support sanctions, a sentiment which populist politicians — many belonging to her own bloc — have been willing to tap into.

Some of Meloni’s colleagues have themselves cosied up to the Kremlin. Fellow coalition leader Silvio Berlusconi is a long-time confidante of President Vladimir Putin confidante, who was recorded last October admitting to exchanging gifts and “sweet letters” with the maligned Russian leader. 

And Matteo Salvini — appointed by Meloni as deputy PM — had previously expressed positive attitudes towards Russia, and had donned a Putin T-shirt back in 2014.

Taking journalists to court

Italy has long been ranked as one of Western Europe’s worst countries for journalists, coming in at 58th place in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index

Some journalists have expressed concerns that Meloni’s election win has made life even more challenging for reporters in Italy, especially those belonging to the left.

While Meloni — herself a journalist — has expressed her support for press freedom, critics point to hostile behaviours from members of her party, Brothers of Italy, towards leftist journalists, as well as legal threats made by the right-wing leader herself against dissenting voices, as signs of a worsening situation.

Among these is Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian-Italian journalist and academic, who found herself threatened with legal action after claims she had made about Meloni’s views on immigration.

“[Meloni and her party] want to take down anyone who ever dares to criticise their policies,” she told Euronews. “It’s a sign of what’s to come.”

But while Meloni eventually fell short of taking Jebreal to court, she did not spare another journalist: Roberto Saviano.

In October, she decided to sue Saviano — one of Italy’s most prominent anti-Mafia campaigners and an avowed Meloni critic — over comments he had made in 2020, in which he labelled her and Salvini “bastards.”

If found guilty, Saviano could face up to three years in prison, a prospect which a global press freedom watchdog described as a “chilling message” to Italy’s journalists.

What do the analysts and the public say?

After 100 days in office, what do commentators and the Italian public say about Meloni so far? 

Analysts have found their fears of a potential far-right takeover have been somewhat mitigated, although they remain unconvinced with Meloni’s performance.

“Her cabinet did not do much in its first 100 days,” Andrea Mammone, a history professor at Rome’s Sapienza University, told Euronews. “The government is basically following the EU on international politics.”

“This clearly shows how complex it is to run a country when someone is starting from populist premises,” he added.

According to opinion polls, Italians are broadly satisfied with Meloni’s job so far. Her party, Brothers of Italy, has soared since she took office, and she currently has a 48% approval rating.

It would appear Meloni has managed to hit a sweet middle spot, flexing her muscles when necessary to signal strength to her supporters — the arrest of Italy’s most-wanted Mafia boss earlier this month certainly bolstered her image — while also towing the Brussels line.

As Meloni further consolidates her power, she is likely to continue this careful balancing act which has reaped her significant rewards both home and abroad. But as a string of Italian prime ministers each saw their support plummet shortly after enjoying an initial ‘honeymoon’ phase, it remains to be seen whether the newly elected PM will manage to cling onto her popularity — or suffer the same fate.

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