Article in German magazine comes days ahead of elections in Italy.
Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia party, features on the front cover of Germany's weekly current affairs magazine Stern alongside a title that reads "the most dangerous woman in Europe".
The controversial headline is part of an article that begins: 'Postfascist Giorgia Meloni can win the elections in Italy with the help of Putin's friends. That would have extreme consequences for us."
The article in the broadly left-liberal magazine, written by Luisa Brandl and Andrea Ritter, hits newsstands in Germany on Thursday, a few days before Italians vote in a general election on 25 September.
"She presents herself as Christian, modern and harmless" - the cover story reads - "At the same time Giorgia Meloni wants to transform Italy into an authoritarian state, if she wins the elections."
The article references Meloni's tirades against the "LGBT lobby" and her support of Hungary's far-right prime minister Victor Orbán, and alleges that in 2020 she spread "fake news about the coronavirus and tweeted that the EU would benefit from the pandemic, without explaining exactly how".
Die gefährlichste Frau Europas: Postfaschistin Giorgia #Meloni kann mithilfe von #Putin-Freunden die Wahl in #Italien gewinnen – das hätte extreme Folgen für uns. Der neue stern ist ab morgen am Kiosk erhältlich – und ab sofort auch bei uns im Shop! #italien #wahl #giorgiameloni pic.twitter.com/38JhgMmcY9
— stern (@sternde) September 21, 2022
Stern also states: "Meloni says she is a Christian, but that doesn't necessarily mean she likes going to church", adding that she "supports ultra-conservative groups which, in the name of God, are mobilising against the right to abortion and 'unnatural' families".
The article underlines the Russian connections of Meloni's allies in the rightist bloc her party dominates - Lega leader Matteo Salvini and Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi - claiming that both "maintain links with the Kremlin. Through them, Putin would for the first time have allies in the government of a Western European country and with their help he could destabilise the Union."
In terms of foreign policy, according to Stern, "much suggests that Meloni will have a pragmatic approach at a European level, to ensure that Brussels continues to send money to Rome".
The article in Stern follows a similarly titled piece published in August by The Spectator which asked "Is Giorgia Meloni the most dangerous woman in Europe?"
Meloni, who is leading in opinion polls ahead of elections, has insisted that she will not be a danger to democracy if she becomes premier, contending that her party has "consigned fascism to history".