Georgia Meloni looks set to become Italy’s next prime Minister. But what is post-fascism and what will her election mean for Europe?

If elected, and the polls say she will be, she’ll be the first woman to lead her nation, and the first far-right leader to form a government since Mussolini formed his administration before World War II.

Her election could mean a rough relationship between Rome and Brussels, particularly on migration and economic policy. Meloni's views on reproduction rights and LGBT issues may cause further division.

What is post-fascism?

It’s called post-fascism or neo-fascism because it is a form of fascism that has evolved to navigate today’s political environment. It exists within contemporary market and political dynamics.

Where did it come from?

Some political scientists have argued that recent decades have brought about similar conditions in Europe to those that prevailed between the First and Second World War. These conditions have given rise to new and renewed fascist sentiments.

In the EU many people feel that their nation-states have been weakened. Member-states have found themselves divided by ethnicity, race, class and immigrant populations. Nationalist movements have found support in all EU countries, from the Netherlands to Greece.

Why is it anti-immigrant?

Immigrants, both legal and illegal, have been seen as problems and have been at the core of neo-fascist messaging. Blending nativism, ultranationalism and xenophobia, it provides comfort to those who seek to blame someone or something for the problems that plague their society.

Generally speaking, anti-immigrant momentum gains traction when the economy is weak or unemployment is high, and people fear ‘foreigners’ are taking their jobs.

How did Meloni become the frontrunner?

This Sunday, Italians will vote in national elections for the first time since 2018 but Italy has had 3 different governments between 2018 and 2022. Governments in Italy don't tend to last long.

The last one was a national unity government led by Mario Draghi, the ex-President of the European Central Bank.

Ms. Meloni’s party, the Brothers of Italy, was the only one that stayed outside that unity government. She used this fact to gain momentum for her party as the opposition to the government.

Brothers of Italy went from having 4% support in 2018 to 25% today.

Why is Europe worried?

The Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, said he fears the social and moral agenda of the far right. He said he views Ms. Meloni's future coalition as a threat to EU values.

Her stance on illegal immigration also worries the EU. Last month, she called for a naval blockade against migrants. She called the EU an accomplice to “the ethnic replacement of Europe’s citizens” blaming international "speculators".

In the past she has criticised the Euro, supported Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Marine Le Pen in France.

She has called European civil servants “Brussels bureaucrats” and subscribes to the George Soros antisemitic conspiracy narrative.

So whilst she has taken care of her image recently, appealing to moderates in and out of Italy, positioning herself as a "Christian mother" and agreeing with EU sanctions on Russia; in Brussels, there’s fear that once in power, Meloni could once again reveal a more nationalist agenda.

This has been a simplified version of terms and context. Read more on Meloni and elections in Italy.

Christos Floros covers News and Politics for RTL Today @christosfloros