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Giorgia Meloni’s Italy

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Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni epitomizes modern European right-wing populism. We present some pivotal facts about the country she leads.

If one looks at GDP figures, Italy’s economy has recovered well from the pandemic, expanding by 0.9% in 2023 and 0.6% in the first quarter of 2024. As a result, GDP surpassed its pre-Covid level by 4.5% – a stronger performance than in other large euro area countries.


However, Italy’s GDP performance heavily relies on extraordinary post-pandemic support measures enacted by successive governments between 2021 and 2023, totaling €296 billion – equivalent to about 15% of GDP.


Italy’s underlying vulnerabilities include that it is expected to overtake Greece by 2028 as the EU economy with the highest public debt – reaching 143.7% of GDP, up from 137.3% in 2023.


Poverty levels in Italy have also been rising. Between 2013 and 2023, the purchasing power of gross wages in Italy has decreased by 4.5%, while in the other major economies of the EU it has grown at rates ranging from 1.1% in France to 5.7% in Germany.


Italy’s GDP has returned to the pre-global economic crisis levels of 2007. However, over the past 15 years, Italy has accumulated a growth gap of over 10 percentage points with Spain, 14 with France and 17 with Germany.


Italy accounts for 12.3% of the EU’s total GDP. Its GDP per capita is €34,400 – slightly under the EU average of €35,500.


Italy contributes approximately €18 billion to the EU budget. The EU member state that contributes the most is Germany (€33 billion), the lowest contributor is Malta (€150 million).


A slight majority of Italians do not have a positive image of Giorgia Meloni after nearly two years in charge. 52% disapprove of her government, whereas only 41% think positively about her performance.


Italy is among the EU member countries with the greatest share of people who believe that their country would do better outside the EU (40%). Other EU member countries include Poland (47%), Cyprus (42%) and Slovenia (41%).


Italy’s defense spending is approximately 1.3% of GDP. The EU member state with the highest defense spending is Greece (2.6 %), the lowest is Ireland (0.2%).


Some 45% of Italians are against sending weapons to Ukraine, compared to 34% in favor. Among supporters of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, 47% are against arms supplies.