Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the nationalist party Brothers of Italy, in Naples on Friday.Credit…Alessandro Garofalo/LaPresse, via Associated Press
Italy’s pivotal election
Italians headed to the polls yesterday in national elections, and exit polls suggest that the country is poised to elect Giorgia Meloni, the hard-right leader of a party descended from post-Fascist roots.
Meloni is known for her rhetorical crescendos, thundering timbre and ferocious speeches slamming gay-rights lobbies, European bureaucrats and illegal migrants. Official results are expected to be declared today.
While Meloni would become Italy’s first female prime minister, women’s rights activists fear that her talk about preventing abortions and her hard-right agenda will set back the cause of women. Gay parents are also concerned after she pledged to oppose surrogacy and adoption by gay couples.
Meloni’s long track record of bashing the European Union, international bankers, vaccine mandates and migrants has also sown concern for the cohesiveness of the European Union, as it struggles to keep pressure on President Vladimir Putin of Russia for his war in Ukraine.
Background. Unlike in Germany, where facing the country’s Nazi past is a national project, the postwar process in Italy has been defined by a deliberate amnesia as a means to unify the nation. Today that process has culminated in Meloni’s rise, after several decades in which hard-right elements were gradually brought into the political fold, legitimized and made familiar to Italian voters.
Context. More than 70 years after Nazis and Fascists nearly destroyed Europe, formerly taboo parties with Nazi or Fascist heritages that were long marginalized have elbowed their way into the mainstream. Across Europe, some are winning elections.
Russia tries to conscript Ukrainians
Russian forces in occupied parts of Ukraine are trying to force Ukrainian men to fight against their own country, according to Ukrainian officials, witnesses and rights groups.
In two regions, Kherson and Zaporizka, all men ages 18 to 35 have been forbidden to leave and ordered to report for military duty, Ukrainian officials and witnesses said. The roundups follow President Putin’s declaration of a “partial mobilization” last week that is also sweeping up hundreds of thousands of Russians.
Moscow is also forcing residents of occupied areas to vote in staged referendums, which began on Friday, on joining Russia. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military kept fighting to reclaim territory. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, urged citizens to avoid mobilization efforts “by any means.”
“Sabotage any activity of the enemy, hinder any Russian operations, provide us with any important information about the occupiers — their bases, headquarters, warehouses with ammunition,” he said on Friday. “And at the first opportunity, switch to our positions. Do everything to save your life and help liberate Ukraine.”
Zelensky also called on Russians to resist Putin’s conscription, saying the potential penalties for avoiding the draft were far better thangetting injured or killed fighting in an unjust war.
Ukraine is making gains in the south, but the fighting is resulting in many casualties.
Draft: Russia’s call-up of military reservists appears to be drawing more heavily from minority groups and rural areas. Criticism is growing, and at least 745 people have been detained across Russia after protests.
Death: Serhiy Sova’s body was exhumed from a grave in Izium. The image of a bracelet on his wrist in Ukraine’s colors, given to him by his children, has transfixed the nation.
Protests swell in Iran
Iran’s largest antigovernment protests since 2009 gathered strength on Saturday, spreading to as many as 80 cities.
Protesters have reportedly taken the small, mostly Kurdish city of Oshnavieh. Many fear a crackdown. “We are expecting blood to be spilled,” said an Iranian Kurd based in Germany who edits a news site. “It’s an extremely tense situation.”
The authorities have stepped up their response, including opening fire on crowds. On Friday, state media said at least 35 had been killed, but rights groups said the number is likely much higher. Activists and journalists have also been arrested, according to rights groups and news reports.
Background: The protests were ignited by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was arrested by the morality police on accusations of violating the hijab mandate, which requires covered hair and loosefitting clothing for women. Women have led the demonstrations, some ripping off their head scarves, waving them and burning them as men have cheered them on.
Context: Analysts say that deep resentments have been building for months in response to a crackdown ordered by Ebrahim Raisi, the hard-line president, that has targeted women. Years of complaints over corruption, economic and Covid mismanagement, and widespread political repression play a role.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
More than 700 children have died in a measles outbreak in Zimbabwe, driven by a decline in child immunization.
Super Typhoon Noru hit the main island of Luzon in the Philippines last night. Heavy rains and winds may cause devastating flooding and landslides.
Tropical Storm Ian could become a very strong hurricane near western Cuba before threatening Florida this week.
Other Big Stories
North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile yesterday, its first such test in nearly four months.
Eleven children died when Myanmar soldiers fired on a school earlier this month. A U.N. expert called the attack a war crime.
LinkedIn ran experiments on more than 20 million users over five years that, while intended to improve how the platform worked for members, could have affected some people’s livelihoods, according to a new study.
What Else Is Happening
A concert by Roger Waters, co-founder of the rock band Pink Floyd, was canceled in Poland after he was criticized there for his view that Ukraine should pursue peace with Russia.
Eliud Kipchoge, a 37-year-old Kenyan, ran the Berlin Marathon in a time of 2:01:09, smashing his own world record.
NASA will crash into an asteroid tonight. Here’s how to watch.
A Morning Read
Germany has gone further than any other Western democracy to fight far-right extremism. It’s now prosecuting people for what they say online.
ARTS AND IDEAS
A ferry disaster, two decades later
In 2002, the Joola ferry left Ziguinchor, Senegal, with about 1,900 aboard. It tilted, then capsized. More people died on the Joola than on the Titanic, and only 64 people survived.
For the anniversary of the disaster, The Times’s West Africa correspondent, Elian Peltier, vividly recreated the little known incident. Alongside Mady Camara of the Dakar bureau, Peltier met with survivors who still bear scars.
“Their trauma remains so pronounced — the insomnia and speech issues, alcoholism, depression, survivor’s guilt, just to name a few symptoms — but it mostly remains unaddressed,” he said.
A prosecutor concluded that only the captain, who died, was culpable, despite a separate report that revealed considerable dysfunction, including warnings about the military-run ship’s condition.
The relatives of most victims have given up trying to find justice, instead pouring their efforts into raising the wreck to honor their loved ones. More than 550 have been buried, but most remain 59 feet deep in the Atlantic.
“The swell has been hitting these souls for the past 20 years,” Elie Jean Bernard Diatta told our reporters. Her brother Michel died while taking 26 teenagers to a soccer tournament. “They speak to us in dreams, and they ask for one thing only: to rest in peace underground,” she said.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, XYZ
What to Cook
This tofu and cabbage stir-fry with basil offers layers and layers of textures and flavors, with charred crisp-tender cabbage, creamy tofu and scrambled eggs.
What to Read
Celeste Ng’s new dystopian novel, “Our Missing Hearts,” hits uncomfortably close to reality, Stephen King writes.
Speeding up your daily walk could have big benefits.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Self-satisfied (four letters).
And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Jonathan and Amelia
P.S. The word “grammelschmalz” appeared for the first time in The Times yesterday in a story about winemaking in Vienna.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the future of American evangelicalism.
Lynsey Chutel, a Briefings writer based in Johannesburg, wrote today’s Arts and Ideas. You can reach Jonathan, Amelia and the team at [email protected].