March 8 is celebrated around the world as International Women’s Day. It’s an especially fitting occasion to reflect on the success of a woman who is quickly becoming one of the world’s most important political figures: Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni.
Meloni's success transcends gender. Not only is she the G7’s only female leader, but according to Morning Consult’s “Global Leader Approval Ratings,” the Italian prime minister boasts the highest level of domestic approval out of all G7 political leaders. Meloni is the only leader in the group to have the support of the majority of her co-nationals, with a 54 percent approval rating that dwarfs that of her international counterparts.
President Joe Biden enjoys the support of only 42 percent of the American public, with a majority of the American people sharing a negative opinion of his presidency thus far. Further north, things are even gloomier for Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who has a mere 39 percent approval rating and the disapproval of 55 percent of Canadians surveyed.
Things aren’t any better for German chancellor Olaf Scholz or British prime minister Rishi Sunak. The former enjoys a paltry 36 percent approval rating, with nearly 60 percent of Germans surveyed expressing a negative opinion of the Chancellor. Less than a third of Brits have a favorable opinion of Sunak. Scholz and Sunak look like superstars, however, when compared to Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida: only 23 percent of those surveyed reported a positive opinion of the man, with more than 60 percent of the Japanese public sharing negative views.
Finally, French president Emmanuel Macron, who struts across the international stage as the self-styled leader of Europe, is the G7 leader most disliked by his own citizens, with nearly 70 percent of the French public holding an unfavorable impression of the man. Macron’s unpopularity was evident in the recent parliamentary elections, in which Macron lost the legislative majority.
Meloni’s strong popularity with Italians comes from her political tenacity and coherence as well as staying in touch with everyday concerns. She is generally recognized as a self-made person and—being herself from a storied working-class neighborhood—as a champion of the lower and middle classes. She is also very strong-minded on matters of national interest, and in foreign policy, she is taking an unusually unequivocal geopolitical stance for an Italian prime minister: firmly anchored in the Western alliance and hard-nosed on China and Russia.
Today, Meloni is not only the most popular leader in the G7; her youth, talent, and popularity suggest her stature on the international scene will continue to grow for years to come, which is something that cannot be said with confidence of her colleagues. Not bad for the “underdog”—as she referred to herself in her inauguration speech—who has relied on her own determination and ability to make a name for herself. On this International Women’s Day, therefore, let us praise the emerging leadership of this woman who has already become one of the most prominent and promising leaders in international politics.
Alexander Alden is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a former Department of State, National Security Council, and Department of Defense official.