Meloni became a 15-year-old activist for the Youth Front of the Italian Social Movement, founded by followers of Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
Two decades later, Meloni now aims to become Italy’s first female prime minister, supported by voters disenchanted with the energy and cost of living crises and willing to bet on the tough-talking firebrand. Meloni’s rightwing coalition with Matteo Salvini’s far-right League and Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia expects to secure a comfortable majority.
In her autobiography “I Am Giorgia,” Meloni said she was inspired to join the Youth Front after the 1992 murder of Paolo Borsellino, the anti-mafia judge, and the country-wide corruption scandal known as Tangentopoli (Bribesville) that involved thousands of politicians and officials.
Meloni became a member of parliament in 2006 and, two years later, aged 31, was appointed by Silvio Berlusconi to run the youth portfolio, becoming the youngest minister in Italian history.
In 2011, Meloni teamed up with Giuseppe Cossiga and Forza Italia’s Guido Crosetto -- within a year, she created Brothers of Italy as a new pole for Italian conservatism.
Following the early collapse of Mario Draghi’s unity coalition in July, Italy’s business community is betting on Meloni.
“She will have to govern a complex country like Italy at a complex moment,” Emma Marcegaglia, former president of Italy’s most prominent business association, told the Financial Times. “She understands the difficulty of this moment, and that this is her big chance.”