December 30, 2023

Giorgia Meloni named ‘Man of the Year’ by right-wing Italian newspaper

By Josephine Mckenna
December 30, 2023 — 1.45pm
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An Italian right-wing daily newspaper provoked an outcry on Friday after naming the country’s first female prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, its “Man of the Year”.

Libero ran a lengthy tribute on its front page and featured a large portrait of Meloni wearing a double-breasted white blazer and a look of determination.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni peers out from a door before introducing Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.Credit: AP

Under the headline “Man of the Year”, the article said Meloni had won “the war of the sexes” in Italy and had “not only broken the glass ceiling, she dissolved it”.

The article was quickly received as a snub by political opponents and women’s rights activists who have accused Meloni of not doing enough to protect women from violence and promulgating regressive views around their role in society.

On Thursday, a senator in her party said that a young woman’s “first aspiration” should be to have a child.

The article was written by Mario Sechi, the paper’s Rome bureau chief, who led the prime minister’s public relations team between March and September of 2023 before taking his position at the daily.

“In our society of weak thinking, we have recognised strong ideas,” Sechi wrote.

“In excessive diversity, we have reversed gender. In times of war, we have chosen someone who has shown she knows how to fight.”

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Sechi said the prime minister had confronted two wars, multiple geopolitical shocks, a changing Europe and a world order that was now being reinvented.

She was elected as Italy’s first female prime minister in October 2022.

“Giorgia Meloni for Libero is ‘Man of the Year’ because above everything she has cancelled the war of the sexes by winning it, by thinking differently, being divergent, overcoming the arrogance of men and the defeatism of women. She has not only broken the glass ceiling, she has dissolved it.”

“This is a surrender”

Elly Schlein, secretary of the centre-left Democratic Party, criticised the newspaper’s editorial decision, saying the prime minister had abandoned Italian women.

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“Today a right-wing newspaper is explaining to us that politics and power are for men,” Schlein said. “I don’t think my aspiration as a politician is to become ‘Man of the Year’. On the contrary, I think this is a surrender”.

Elisabetta Piccolotti, an MP from the Alleanza Verdi e Sinistra (Greens and Left Alliance), described the cover as “an affirmation of male superiority” and called on the prime minister to reject it.

“At this point, prime minister, please clarify: are you a woman, are you a man or are you non-binary?” Piccolotti wrote on Facebook.

However, the culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, a former deputy director of Libero, told journalists in Naples that the title ‘Man of the Year’ was well-deserved as he also took a swipe at the “barbarism” of “cancel culture”.

Since it was elected in 2022, the Meloni government has sought to defend the traditional family and national identity, protect cultural heritage and restrict migrant arrivals.

Meloni, a single mother who recently separated from her partner, TV presenter Andrea Giambruno, has been known for her strong stance on the concept of the traditional family.

She has so far made no comment on the Libero article.

Telegraph, London

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