These Five Foreign Political Leaders Are Taking On The Left

The Left is having a reckoning abroad.
Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

The Left is having a reckoning abroad.

In Europe and South America, a wave of elected officials, all with at least some conservative policies, have soared to victory and taken the reigns in the upper tiers of government.

The pendulum swing comes to the chagrin of their leftist opponents, who would prefer to keep any politician with a single conservative policy out of power.

These five newly-minted leaders are taking on the leftist political players in their countries.

Italy: Giorgia Meloni

On Monday, Giorgia Meloni claimed victory as Italy’s first female prime minister, to the chagrin of Italy’s left.

She led her party, Brothers of Italy to victory with a platform that was staunchly pro-NATO, pro-Italy, and cautiously critical of the European Union.

Meloni, 45, is a Catholic mother who has also passionately emphasized family values, condemning abortion, gay marriage, child gender transitions, and euthanasia.

“Why is the family an enemy? Why is the family so frightening?” Meloni asked in 2019 while speaking to the World Congress of Families conference.

“I can’t define myself as Italian, Christian, woman, mother, no,” she said. “I must be citizen x, gender x, parent one, parent two. I must be a number. Because when I am only a number, when I no longer have an identity or roots, then I will be the perfect slave at the mercy of financial speculators, the perfect consumer.”

When her victory appeared imminent, Meloni was attacked as a “far-right nationalist,” and “a danger to Italy and the rest of Europe.”

Meloni is a member of the Chamber of Deputies in Italy and has also chaired the European Conservative and Reformist group in the European Parliament. Her victory comes as Italy continues to recover from the pandemic and struggles with spiking food and gas prices.

Britain: Liz Truss

British Prime Minister Liz Truss, while not as right-wing as Meloni, has embraced several fiscally conservative policies that have irritated her left-wing opponents.

The Conservative Party leader, 47, has pushed for a robust economic agenda that includes aggressive tax cuts and slashing regulation.

Truss became the United Kingdom’s prime minister on Sep. 6. Before she had been on the job for even two days, Queen Elizabeth II died, plunging the country into official mourning and marking a tumultuous start for Truss.

After the mourning period ended, Truss on Friday debuted her plan to cut $48 billion in taxes. Also on Friday, the Conservative Party government scratched a corporate tax hike and lowered the basic income tax rate to 19%.

“For too long, politicians have fought over how to slice up the economic pie,” Truss wrote Saturday in an op-ed for The Daily Mail. “We will focus instead on growing the pie to the benefit of families and businesses.”

She has already been accused of pushing “radical policies” and of having “no moral right to be prime minister.”

Truss is a former Liberal Democrat and supported Brexit before leaving the party and changing her view.

Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is much further to the right than Meloni or Truss, but he is still significant right-wing presence internationally.

The conservative populist and political outsider, or “Tropical Trump” as he is sometimes nicknamed, was elected in 2018 and ran on a platform of bringing order back to a corrupt Brazil. His views have been frequently called out for being significantly harder-right than those of the American right, including a string of discriminatory comments. At the same time though, he has rejected left-wing social values.

Bolsonaro, 67, is up for reelection in October and is currently trailing in the polls to his left-wing opponent, although the gap appears to be shrinking.

In his July reelection campaign launch, Bolsonaro emphasized law and order and family values.

“Today we have a president who believes in God; represents the military and police; believes in the family,” Bolsonaro told the crowd, some of whom shouted “mito” or legend.

Like several other right-wing leaders, Bolsonaro has been called “far-right” by critics.

Despite his conservative brand, Bolsonaro has also pushed for generous government assistance to Brazil’s poor, a move that boosted his approval in the dog days of the pandemic.

Hungary: Viktor Orban

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has the longest presence on the world stage out of these five political leaders.

Like Bolsonaro, Orban has been criticized for having extremely hard-right tendencies and holding discriminatory views. Critics have dubbed him “the poor man’s Vladimir Putin” and have slammed him for curtailing the press and damaging judicial independence.

However, while other European countries have found themselves in crisis after accepting waves of immigrants, Orban has stringently restricted immigration into Hungary. He has also encouraged families to grow by offering generous government support.

Orban won his last election with a slight majority of 52.5%, more than he won by in both 2018 and 2014.

In August, he delivered a speech at CPAC during which he came out swinging against “globalists.”

“The globalists can all go to hell,” Orbán said to applause.

“Politics are not enough,” Orbán said. “This war is a culture war. We have to revitalize our churches, our families, our universities and our community institutions.”

Canada: Pierre Poilievre

Pierre Poilievre may not be Prime Minister, but he was elected leader of Canada’s Conservative Party earlier this month.

The fiery new party leader was elected in a landslide 68-16% vote over his more moderate opponent.

“Tonight begins the journey to replace an old government that costs you more and delivers you less with a new government that puts you first, your paycheck, your retirement, your home, your country,” Poilievre vowed to applause and chants of “Freedom!” during his victory speech.

Poilievre, an energetic firebrand populist, has aggressively taken aim at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s progressive agenda. Now, the newly-minted Conservative leader is positioned to be a thorn in Trudeau’s side at the very least and a formidable force that hobbles the Liberal Party prime minister’s agenda at most.

Earlier this year, Poilievre voiced support for the anti-vaccine mandate trucker convoy that blocked the U.S.-Canada border. His election comes as Canadians look back on over two years of draconian COVID restrictions that have harmed Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

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