Can we really, with a straight face, talk about women as bringing a totally different, healing touch to politics?
In India, there is Sadhvi Rithambara, who is often accused of the most venomous hate speech against Muslims. In France there is Marine le Pen. And Italy has its own wannabe Marine le Pen in Giorgia Meloni. Ms Meloni underlines a rather unpleasant reality: when it comes to political gain, women often talk the same language as men. Why did we expect any different? They’re politicians, after all.
Anyway, the current focus on Ms Meloni’s party means the spotlight is on her. So who is she?
Well, she’s 44, once served in Silvio Berlusconi’s cabinet, and leads the Brothers of Italy party. No matter that the Brothers are led by a sister, the party is neo-fascist and fairly conservative.
Ms Meloni is capitalising on the Brothers’ sudden prominence as the sole opposition party in parliament, with Matteo Salvini’s League and every other large political party backing Mario Draghi’s government.
By embracing the freedom to oppose the Draghi government, Ms Meloni’s party has achieved a presence that’s being noticed by ordinary voters. According to a recent poll published by ‘Corriere della Sera’, the League narrowly scraped through as the largest party on the right. It was at 21.9 per cent; the Brothers of Italy were at 18.9 per cent.
The point about Ms Meloni (and indeed Ms le Pen) is that women in politics aren’t always that different from men in their instincts and language.