How ‘far to the right’ does the PN have to go, before we start calling it a ‘far-right party’?

I just thought I’d ask, because… well, some of the things that Bernard Grech has been saying, over the past few weeks, have almost reminded me of that classic line from the 1960s ‘Star Trek’ series

I just thought I’d ask, because… well, some of the things that Bernard Grech has been saying, over the past few weeks, have almost reminded me of that classic line from the 1960s ‘Star Trek’ series: “to boldly go, where no man has gone before…”

Only in Grech’s case, it’s more like: “to boldly take the Nationalist Party much, much, MUCH farther to the political right, than any of its previous leaders had even dreamed of ever taking it before…” (Unless, of course, we go all the way back to the pre-Independence era: when former PN leaders such as Enrico Mizzi had made no secret of their open admiration for a certain ‘Mussolini, Benito’; to the extent that he himself eventually got deported to Uganda – along with several other presumed ‘Fascist sympathisers’ – during WW2.)

Not, mind you, that it was even my intention to resuscitate that long-dormant controversy, well over 80 years later. But then again: it’s kind of difficult to simply ‘forget’ all about the Nationalist Party’s historical ‘ties with Fascist Italy’… when its current leader seems to be doing his utmost to remind us all about it, at every single opportunity.

And what better way to do that, than by openly emulating – and even trying to ‘outdo’ – all the far-right policies, and ideological beliefs, of an Italian politician who has been described (perhaps unfairly) as the ‘spiritual successor’ of none other than Mussolini himself?

That’s right, folks: I’m referring to Italy’s current prime minister Giorgia Meloni… whose recent ascent to power was greeted with varying degrees of ‘shock’ and ‘horror’, by both local and international media; and who has herself repeatedly been show-cased – alongside Donald Trump, of course - as almost a physical embodiment of ‘everything that is worrying about the resurgence of the Far Right, today’.

And just to give you a rough idea, of exactly how ‘far to the right’ Meloni is perceived to be: here are a few random headlines from the last couple of months.

> ‘Who is Giorgia Meloni? The rise to power of Italy's new far-right PM’ (BBC News)

> ‘Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni sworn in as Italy’s first female prime minister (Euronews)

> ‘Who is Giorgia Meloni, the star of the Italian far right?’ (DW)

> ‘Women’s rights denied: Abortion on the line as Italy’s far right eyes power’ (

> ‘Giorgia Meloni is a danger to Italy and Europe’ (Roberto Saviano, writing in the Guardian)

There: I guess that leaves little room for doubt, as to where the vast majority of Europe’s mainstream media would instantly plot someone with Giorgia Meloni’s views, on the political ‘left-to-right’ spectrum. And it’s exactly the same spot where Malta’s own media have universally chosen to place her, too (for here – just as in the rest of Europe – it has become ‘de rigeur’ to always prefix the name of Italy’s new prime minister, with a reference to her status as a ‘far-right politician’…)

But that only brings us back to the question I asked in the headline. What is it about Giorgia Meloni’s politics, anyway, that everyone seems to instantly recognise as being ‘far-right’? And in what way, exactly, do these same views actually differ, from all the official policies and positions taken up by the Nationalist Party, under Bernard Grech’s leadership?

At the risk of repeating an earlier article (which, in any case, was quoting from The Times of Malta), the answer seems to include that:

a) “From abortion to gay marriage, civil rights activists in Catholic-majority Italy fear a significant set-back with the expected election triumph of a far-right party dedicated to defending ‘traditional family values’…”

b)  Meloni had campaigned under the slogan, “God, Family, Fatherland”; and

c) “[She] has taken a hard line on immigration, with the right-wing coalition citing public safety as a priority…”

Hmm. Sounds kind of familiar already, doesn’t it…?

Now, to be fair to Bernard Grech: he isn’t exactly the first leader of the Nationalist Party, to have espoused EXACTLY the same ideological stances – meticulously, point-for-point - as a woman who is now regarded as a ‘danger to her own country, and to rest of Europe’.

Certainly, he wasn’t the one who came up with the PN’s official motto, ‘Religio et Patria’… which is, let’s face it, a direct Latin translation of Meloni’s campaign slogan (perhaps unsurprisingly: considering that both are actually variations of the terminology used by Mussolini’s Fascist Party, way back in the 1920s…)

Nor was Bernard Grech himself the architect of what is BY FAR the most extreme anti-choice position, of any political party anywhere in Europe; (unless, of course, you include the Vatican State).

And the same goes for all the rest of those ‘far-right’ qualities, too: for instance, the fact that the Nationalist Party has historically – and tragically, in my opinion – opposed practically every single milestone, in Malta’s many recent advances in civil rights: especially, where gay rights were concerned. Or, for that matter, that its own approach to immigration/asylum issues, is infinitely more ‘draconian’ than anything Giorgia Meloni herself has actually done, in the two months she’s been prime minister of Italy…

In brief: Bernard Grech cannot be personally credited with having ‘reinvented’ the Nationalist Party, into something which now reflects every single last one, of Giorgi Meloni’s universally-acknowledged ‘far-right’ political traits.

But he certainly has done more than any of his recent predecessors – again, not counting the likes of Enrico Mizzi, et al – to associate the Nationalist Party with the most ‘extreme’ forms of an ideology that we otherwise (i.e., when talking about any other party, but the PN) immediately recognise as… in case you haven’t worked it out already … ‘EXTREMIST’.

On abortion, for instance: by deciding to (tragically, once again) align the Nationalist Party, with what can only be described as the single most repressive, regressive attitude towards women’s rights, anywhere to be found in Europe’s political landscape… Bernard Grech has not only ‘out-done’ Giorgia Meloni, in the race towards the ‘right-most’ extremities of the political spectrum… but he leaves even the likes of Hungary’s Viktor Orban (and, dare I say it, the USA’s Donald Trump) far, far behind…

Indeed, I can think of no other politician – in any contemporary democracy, anyway  - who would actively argue, in public, that a woman should be forced to carry a pregnancy to full-term, even if it:

a) places her health in grave jeopardy;

b) poses serious danger to her mental health, and;

c) does both of the above, even in cases where the pregnancy itself is ‘unviable’ to begin with (and there is literally no chance of ‘saving the life of the unborn child’, at all...)

No, no: make no mistake. As my colleague James Debono succinctly put it yesterday, “the PN has finally discovered its identity, somewhere to the right of Giorgia Meloni and even Donald Trump…”

And yet, I have never heard Bernard Grech himself described as a ‘far-right politician’, anywhere in the local media; and – also unlike the case with Giorgia Meloni – nor has it become ‘de rigueur’ to always use the label ‘far-right’, to describe the Nationalist Party in newspaper headlines.

So again, I ask: how much further to the right does the PN actually have to lurch… before we finally give it the long-overdue recognition it so richly deserves, as the single most extreme ‘far-right’ party on the local (mainstream) circuit? Just curious, that’s all…