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Far-right poised to win big in Italy's general election; Giorgia Meloni to be PM

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Giorgia Meloni, who is posed following Sunday's general election to be Italy's next prime minister, holds up a sign early Monday that reads, "Thank you, Italy." Photo courtesy of Giorgia Meloni/<a href="https://twitter.com/GiorgiaMeloni/status/1574200445769334784?s=20&amp;t=GF_C77kpyM67kHDkb3aQ-g">Twitter</a>
Giorgia Meloni, who is posed following Sunday's general election to be Italy's next prime minister, holds up a sign early Monday that reads, "Thank you, Italy." Photo courtesy of Giorgia Meloni/Twitter

Sept. 25 (UPI) -- A coalition of three right-wing parties are poised take the helm of Italy's government under the leadership of Giorgia Meloni following Sunday's general election, exit polls indicate.

The polls set the stage for Meloni to become the first female prime minister in Italy's history. Her election would usher in the country's first far-right leadership since Benito Mussolini.

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Early Monday, Meloni claimed victory and dedicated the win in a statement to "those who believe and have always believed in us."

"We will not betray your trust," she said. "We are ready to revive Italy."

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The announcement came after he opponents conceded defeat.

"It's a sad evening for the country," Debora Serracchiani, the Democratic Party leader in the Chamber of Duties, said in a press conference, attributing her party's loss to "the right dragged by" Meloni into election.

Going into Sunday's election, Meloni, head of the Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy Party), was heavily favored to win, according to several opinion polls.

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As of midday, there was a 19% turnout at the polls, which were expected to close at 11 p.m., BBC News reported.

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Meloni faced center-left leader Enrico Letta and far-right ally Matteo Salvini. Fratelli d'Italia is expected to form a coalition with other right-wing parties, including Salvini's Lega, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the smaller Noi Moderati.

Fratelli d'Italia, which was established in 2012, is a descendant of the far-right post-Fascism political movement. The political party won 4% of the vote in Italy's 2018 election, CNBC reported. Public broadcaster RAI's exit poll -- cited by Axios -- shows the party could receive up to 26% of votes.

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Together, the right-wing parties are expected to win up to 45% of the vote, compared to up to 30% for the center-left.

Meloni has made opposition to LGBTQ rights, European bureaucrats and undocumented immigrants a hallmark of her campaign.

She has tried to distance herself from comparisons to Italy's fascist past, while still embracing an old Mussolini slogan -- "God, fatherland and family." In her youth, she described Mussolini as a "good politician," but she recently agreed that he had been bad for Italy, The New York Times reported.

One voter, human rights worker Federica Lombardi, told the Times she doesn't "buy" Meloni's attempts to soften her stance.

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"It's political positioning," she said.

Supporter Paola Puglisi, meanwhile, told the Times she was voting for Meloni.

"It's going to be a big chance, having a woman for the first time but also for the right. It's a turning point," she said.

While not explicitly addressing Sunday's election, Pope Francis gave a homily in Rome on election day urging compassion for migrants, Politico reported. He said "raising walls against our brothers and sisters" will "imprison us in solitude."

"Migrants must be welcomed, helped, promoted and integrated," he said.

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