GUEST COMMENTARY - As much of the world watched with alarm as the fascist Fratelli d'Italia party led a far-right coalition to victory in Italy on Sunday, Republican lawmakers in the United States had a much different reaction: Open glee.
Pointing happily to the far-right's recent electoral surge in Sweden, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) tweeted that "the entire world is beginning to understand that the Woke Left does nothing but destroy."
"Nov. 8 is coming soon and the USA will fix our House and Senate!" added Boebert, a loyalist to former U.S. President Donald Trump. "Let freedom reign!"
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a far-right ally of Boebert's in the U.S. House, also applauded Sunday's results, which position Fratelli d'Italia leader Giorgia Meloni to become Italy's next prime minister even though her party won just around 25% of the vote in a low-turnout contest.
"Congratulations to Giorgio Meloni and to the people of Italy," Greene wrote on Twitter, misspelling the right-wing leader's first name.
In her post, Greene linked to a 2019 speech in which Meloni—who was a youth member of the fascist Italian Social Movement—railed against supposed attacks on "national identity" and "religious identity" and vowed to "defend God, country, and family."
Rank-and-file House Republicans were hardly alone in applauding what's likely to be the most right-wing government in Italy since the death of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House minority whip, said in a Fox News appearance Sunday that "it's interesting to see that Europe is leading the way by throwing out socialists with conservatives—and great bold conservative women like Meloni and [U.K. Prime Minister Liz] Truss."
"We need to bring that kind of conservatism to the United States," Scalise added.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas.), for his part, hailed as "spectacular" Meloni's 2019 address to the World Congress of Families, a far-right Christian fundamentalist organization that campaigns against LGBTQ+ rights globally.
Meloni is well-known to the right wing in the U.S., having spoken at the Conservative Political Action Conference and met with former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, a far-right provocateur who has correctly described Meloni's party—also known as Brothers of Italy—as "one of the old fascist parties."
"You put a reasonable face on right-wing populism, you get elected," Bannon said of Meloni in an interview in 2018, a year in which Brothers of Italy garnered just 4% of the vote.
Italy's election of Meloni, who is also president of the European Conservatives and Reformists party, marks a continuation of the worrying trend of rising far-right, xenophobic, and anti-democratic parties across Europe. In Hungary and Poland, far-right parties are already in power, a situation that has proven to be a nightmare for migrants and other vulnerable populations that have seen basic rights stripped away.
Meloni has voiced admiration for the U.S. GOP and right-wing parties in the United Kingdom and Israel, noting in a recent speech that she "shares values and experiences" with them.
"Hungary has a fascist leader. Sweden's far-right party just won. And Italy has now elected a fascist leader," Qasim Rashid, a human rights attorney, wrote on social media late Sunday. "Eighty years after WW2, fascism is rising across Europe. And if Americans aren't careful, the MAGA GOP will usher in that same fascism here. We cannot let that happen."
(Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams where this story was first published.)