ITALIAN SALUTE? ‘’Migrant Invasion’’, Economic Woes Expected to Propel Nationalist and Anti-EU Parties to Prominence
The main leaders of the right wing coalition likely to win Sunday’s Italian legislative election (L-R: Giorgia Meloni, Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini) at a joint press conference in Rome, Thursday.
Millions of Italians head to the polls this weekend for an election which could have far-reaching consequences for both Italy and the EU, in a vote seen by some as the historic nation’s last chance to change course from a disastrous trajectory.
Flooded by spectacular waves of migrants from Africa and the Islamic world, drowning in public debt and suffering from the consequences of widespread economic malaise, frustration and anger are the order of the day among jaded Italian voters, sentiments that an array of anti-establishment and populist parties hope to capitalize on as voting day arrives.
Beyond economic gloom, immigration has been the dominant issue of the campaign, expected to sweep nationalist parties to prominence in a right-wing coalition which polls predict will form the next government.
Leftist protests have reached fever pitch in recent weeks in response to such a prospect, with violent scenes being witnessed, particularly in reaction to the success of the Lega, formerly the separatist Lega Norda (Northern League), headed by Matteo Salvini.
“In a moment of economic crisis, I call on Italian people to trust that I will safeguard their interests rather than those of banks, the multinationals and illegal immigrants in the country”, the charismatic Salvini declared to Italian television in a recent interview.
The campaign of the 44-year-old father of two echoes that of US President Donald Trump, from his ‘’Italians First’’ agenda to verbal posturing against globalists – in this case the EU – to a tough stance on immigration; the Milan native has vowed to deport half a million migrants during his term in office, a drop in the ocean for many given that 600,000 migrants have arrived via the Mediterranean since 2014 alone, yet a horrifying prospect to open borders proponents.
One need look no further than Castel Volturno, a seaside town north of Naples and former resort for wealthy Neapolitans, to find the impact of the migrant influx on Italian life. Of a population of 30,000 inhabitants, some 20,000 are African migrants, many recently arrived via Libya and living in squats along abandoned coastal developments.
Dominated by the Nigerian mafia gangs that traffic drugs and run prostitution rings, remaining Italian residents of what began as an Etruscan city, Volturnum, describe the town as lawless and dangerous.
The implantation of foreign gangs and accompanying criminality is repeated to varying degrees across the national territory and is expected to lead to a surge for nationalist parties promising to tackle what Salvini refers to as the ”migrant invasion.’’
Distrust in the mainstream political establishment is also expected to reap significant rewards for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, the eurosceptic, anti-globalist movement founded by satirist Beppe Grillo and now lead by 31-year-old Luigi Di Maio. Despite a softening of tone on quitting the euro, the movement has quickly become the single most popular political party in Italy.
Luigi Di Maio, leader of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement
Yet it is the alliance of the center right Forza Italia – which sees the unlikely return of political Lazarus, Silvio Berlusconi – and Salvini’s Lega, dubbed by the press as ‘’far right’’ that is likely to capitalize the most from voter discontent. Joining the coalition, the ‘’even more far right’’, Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy), led by Giorgia Meloni who returned Thursday from Budapest after a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
“Now talking to Viktor Orbán. Stop illegal immigration. Fighting Soros and speculative finance. Patriots know how to do it’’, Meloni tweeted from the Hungarian capital.
“I want to give a strong message about our relations with the EU’’, the Fratelli d’Italia leader stated to the Italian press. ‘’We prefer the Visegrad group [Hungary, Czechia, Poland and Slovakia] which is against the Islamization of Europe, to the policies of Juncker and Merkel.”
Despite Berlusconi being solidly in favor of the EU, the likelihood of eurosceptic and anti-immigration parties such as the Lega and Fratelli d’Italia sitting at the heart of government is feared by a Brussels establishment wary of the spread of nationalism and movements which could force in-out referenda on EU membership.
Speaking to Britain’s Daily Express Friday, Brexit supporter Salvini stated that failure by the EU to hear Italian demands could precipitate such a referendum, leading to an Italexit.
“Why on earth would free people remain prisoners in a cage of absurd laws and regulation, with rigid constraints that humiliate the true needs of the people and their country?’’, Italy’s potential next prime minister added.
Having had over 60 governments since World War II, and a history of unstable coalitions, Italians remain cynical about elections and politics. Yet enough voters may be prepared this time around to up-end the political apple cart in the hopes of a major shake-up.
Whether or not promises can be kept, The Gateway Pundit predicts an interesting election night Sunday which follows a heated and exhaustive campaign.
Photo Credits: ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP/GETTY IMAGES, TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images