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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

EU-rightist Tension Increases as Italy’s Election Campaign Ends

The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen cautioned late Thursday that if things go in a "difficult direction," Europe has "the instruments" to deal with Italy

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

ITALY: A rightist alliance is predicted to win the parliamentary election this weekend, which could put Rome on a collision course with Brussels. Italy’s leaders held their final rallies on Friday ahead of the election.

Three centre-left and centrist parties had their final gatherings in several locations throughout the Italian city, highlighting their failure to form a cohesive electoral alliance, which greatly benefited the conservative bloc.

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The nationalist Brothers of Italy party, led by Giorgia Meloni, is expected to take the lead on Sunday and share power with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the League, led by Matteo Salvini.

Although Meloni has attempted to present a moderate image, she and Salvini have both been harshly critical of the European Union, charging Brussels with meddling excessively in national affairs. Brothers of Italy has its roots in a post-fascist movement founded at the close of World War Two.

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The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen cautioned late Thursday that if things go in a “difficult direction,” Europe has “the instruments” to deal with Italy, ratcheting up tensions at the close of a relatively lacklustre campaign.

Salvini held a brief demonstration in front of the Commission headquarters in Rome to criticise von der Leyen while other leaders spoke to their supporters in other places in Rome and elsewhere. He declared, “This is disgusting arrogance.”

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Nearby, former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte staged the farewell rally of his 5-Star Movement, the only person who still can thwart the right’s rise to power.

Conte has revived 5-Star fortunes by promoting its flagship “citizens income” welfare for the poor, which the right wants to dismantle. Two months ago, after he withdrew his support for Prime Minister Mario Draghi and destroyed the unity government, Conte was written off.

A right-wing landslide may be avoided, according to pollsters, because of his unrelenting message’s resonance in the poorer south, where hundreds of millions rely on welfare.

Mauro Battista, a 50-year-old cab driver and supporter of the 5-Star party, stated that the purpose of the rights is to starve a portion of the population.

Berlusconi Firestorm

A mere two kilometres (1.2 miles) away, the Democratic Party (PD), the primary centre-left party in Italy, concluded what detractors deemed to be a lacklustre campaign, charging the right with trying to isolate the nation in Europe.

“We’ve had enough of the constant attacks on Europe. Europe, live forever!” Enrico Letta, the leader of the PD, told his audience.

The number of attendees was far lower than the one that showed up on Wednesday in the same location for the only meeting of Meloni, Salvini, and Berlusconi, who have attempted to minimise the differences in their policy positions.

In Milan on Friday, Berlusconi said, “I have a culture and a background that will allow me, when there is disagreement on a given issue, to call them up, perhaps offer them a magnificent supper and convince them before midnight.”

When he said that Ukrainian President Vladimir Putin had been “pushed” into the invasion and had merely intended to install “good people” in power, Berlusconi earlier ignited a controversy. Later, he said that his opinions had been “oversimplified.”

On Saturday, campaigning is prohibited. On Sunday, voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (0500–2100 GMT), with exit polls being released after voting is complete.

It could take many hours before an accurate tally of the number of parliamentary seats is available due to the intricate computations required by a hybrid proportional/first-past-the-post electoral law.

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