Far-right leader Meloni might become the first woman to lead an Italian government.

If the tough-talking Meloni succeeds, she will face an array of daunting challenges, including soaring energy costs, a suffocating debt mountain, a possible recession and an increasingly dangerous conflict in Ukraine.
If the tough-talking Meloni succeeds, she will face an array of daunting challenges, including soaring energy costs, a suffocating debt mountain, a possible recession and an increasingly dangerous conflict in Ukraine. (AFP)

Giorgia Meloni, 45, who has campaigned under the slogan of "God, country and family" and against "woke ideology", has a good chance of becoming Italy's first female prime minister as the country heads to vote on Sunday. 

Meloni's nationalist Brothers of Italy (FdI) scraped a meagre 4 percent of the votes in 2018. 

But the party is expected to perform much better in now and can win parliamentary majority with the support of an alliance of like-minded right-wing partners. 

If the tough-talking Meloni succeeds, she will face an array of daunting challenges, including soaring energy costs, a debt crisis, a possible economic recession and an increasingly dangerous conflict in Ukraine.

So here's five things to know about her:

1. Working class background

Meloni was brought up by a single mother after her father abandoned them following her birth.

She never attended university and did odd jobs such as working as a babysitter and a bartender to support herself. 

2. Entered politics very young

Her political career started in Rome’s working-class Garbatella neighbourhood when she was only 15. 

She joined the Youth Front, the youth-wing of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), in early 1990s, and rose to become the national leader of the Student Action, the student movement of National Alliance (AN). 

She won her first local election at 21, and ten years later became Italy's youngest-ever minister under former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2008. She held that role until 2011. 

READ MORE: Meloni, Berlusconi end Italy's poll campaign amidst 'nationalist' fervour

3. Far-right roots

Meloni currently heads the Brothers of Italy (FdI) political party, which traces its roots back to a far-right group formed after World War Two.

FdI was founded in 2012.

Following Italy's 2018 election, Meloni's party grew in popularity in the opinion polls, particularly during outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi's cabinet, in which FdI was the only opposition party.

Meloni has looked to distance herself from the far-right and says her party is mainstream conservative. But critics say far-right sympathisers still flourish in its ranks.

4. Her agenda: lower taxes and blocking refugees

If Meloni wins, she's expected to focus on policy issues at the center of Italy's right-wing bloc's politics such as making it difficult for refugees from North Africa to reach the Italian coast. 

She has even proposed a naval blockade to stop the refugee boats. 

Meloni has been critical of European Union's fiscal policies but she's unlikely to pick up a fight with Brussels at a time when Italy is facing economic troubles of its own. 

In her election campaign, she has expressed support for Ukraine – one of the most important diplomatic issues for European leaders these days. 

On the domestic front, she has stressed on her anti-migrant stance to woo the voters. 

5. All for family values

Meloni’s political ideology strongly embraces identity politics and focuses on defending national borders, national interests and the “traditional family" values. 

“I am Giorgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am a Christian,” is one of Meloni’s most popular rallying cries, which her supporters regularly share on social media. 

She has always been staunchly anti-drugs and anti-abortion, although she insists she would not ban abortion if she comes to power. 

READ MORE: Energy crisis leaves Italians torn between far-right surge and indecision

Source: TRTWorld and agencies