The Italian on the far right on the eve of a potential historic win
Italy’s extreme right hoped for a historic victory on Saturday, on the eve of crucial general elections that could make Giorgia Meloni the first leader of a post-fascist party to lead the government of a founding country of the European Community.
Leaders of the main political parties mustered the last of their strength on Friday for the final electoral meetings of the campaign, with political silence imposed on all candidates from 22:00 GMT until polling stations close on Sunday.
In Naples (south), Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Fratelli d’Italia (FdI), which received nearly 25% of the voting intentions, let out a thunderous cry: “I am a patriot!”.
But it was above all his ally Matteo Salvini, leader of the League (anti-immigrants), who occupied the media space by demanding “apologies or the resignation” of Ursula von der Leyen. He criticized the President of the European Commission for shouting threats of sanctions in the US on Thursday in the event of Italy attacking the EU’s democratic principles.
After polling was banned in the two weeks leading up to the election, the latest polls gave the FdI 24-25% of voting intentions, ahead of the Democratic Party (PD, centre-left) between 21-22%. This is followed by the 5-star movement (ex-anti-system) with 13 to 15%, the league with 12%, FI with 8%.
The right/extreme right coalition could win between 45% and 55% of seats in Parliament.
According to analysts, abstention could exceed 30% in this election, a high number for Italy.
– On the Brussels radar –
Brussels is following this election closely, particularly on the thorny issue of sanctions against Moscow and the possible tensions that could arise between the Commission and an ultra-conservative and sovereign government.
Solidarity with NATO Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine led by Mario Draghi, Rome has traditionally maintained friendly relations with Moscow.
Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia’s third conservative coalition partner, sparked controversy when he said Thursday night that Vladimir Putin had been “pushed” by his people to invade Ukraine.
As head of government, Berlusconi befriended the Russian president, whom he personally received at his villa in Sardinia and with whom he traveled to Crimea following Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. In view of the outcry of his last words, he reaffirmed his “absolute loyalty” to NATO and the EU on Friday.
Matteo Salvini is pushing for an easing of sanctions against Moscow, which he says are ineffective and counterproductive, while calling the invasion of Ukraine “unjustifiable”.
The Atlanticist Giorgia Meloni, on the other hand, has clearly spoken out in favor of supporting Ukraine, sanctions against Russia and arms deliveries to Kyiv.
The Italian press repeated these concerns on Saturday. “Zelensky to the Italians: + Don’t vote for Putin’s friends +,” wrote the left-leaning daily La Repubblica on the front page.
“Ultimate challenge for Europe and Putin”, is the headline in the most important Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
Relations with the EU are also being scrutinized, Ms. Meloni alternates promises of cooperation with hidden threats.
“We want a strong, serious and respected Italy on the international stage,” she warns.
The far-right coalition has pledged to honor its European commitments and Giorgia Meloni has officially shelved her plan to get Italy out of the euro, but concerns remain as she just announced her support for the Hungarian regime led by the ultra-nationalist Viktor has reiterated Orban.
She is calling for the renegotiation of Italy’s post-Covid recovery plan, funded by Europe with almost €200 billion, to take into account the rise in energy costs following the war in Ukraine.
However, the disbursement of funds is linked to a series of reforms which the outgoing Mario Draghi government has meticulously adhered to and which now appear to be in jeopardy.
For Meloni, “the party is over”, Italy “will start defending its national interests like the others are doing”.
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