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Salvini leads the populist wave in Europe. Italy emerging as a threat for EU

Matteo Salvini electoral poster, reporting the slogan "Italy first! Common sense in Europe" [personal archive]

Matteo Salvini is the new king of Italy. He won the European elections much better than expected. His party, the League, is the first national party with 34,3% of the vote. It is the best electoral performance ever for the political party since its foundation, in 1991. The outcome is even beyond the last poll before the vote. But… People is the sovereign, Italians spoke. Now a news phase begins, both in Italy and in Europe. Everything is unpredictable, everywhere.

Electoral results

In the end, the Democratic party (PD) finished second at 22,7%, well before the Five Star Movement (M5S), third party with 17,1% of votes. For the first time since 1994, Silvio Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia collected a single digit result (8,8%), while the post-fascist party Brothers of Italy (FdI) performed an unforeseen 6,5%. Bad news for Emma Bonino’s +Europa, incapable to reach the 4% threshold (3,1%).

Seats

Now that electoral results in Italy are determined, it is just a matter of seats. The Italian authorities have no projections yet, but the European Parliament estimated that the League are expected to bring to Brussels 28 MEPs (+23 compared to this expiring European legislature), PD 18 (-13), M5S 14 (-3), Forza Italia 8 (-6), FdI 5 (+5).

Italy fed the populist wave of European

Among the five Italian parties able to elect candidates for the new European Parliament, only PD is truly pro-European. All the other forces are at different degrees against the EU. Sovereign and euro-critic (the League), euro-skeptic (FdI), anti-system (Five Stars): this is what Italy can offer to EU today. Furthermore Forza Italia, an EPP member, would like to be in business with far right parties such as the ones sitting in the ECR.

In general, the anti-European forces didn’t shake Europe. Together (ECR, ENF, EFDD) they would collect 171 seats out of 751. Adding to them the non-attached and the “others” (those who have been elected for the first time and have none political affiliation), the total goes to 208, less than one third of the Plenary. Anyway, the great performance of the League is the main contribution to the populist block.

But the greatest party in Italy is the one euro-indifferent. With a total turnout of 56,09%, Italians produced their lowest participation ever to the European elections. 45,91% of Italians with voting right didn’t go to the booths.

Salvini ready to challenge Europe and Di Maio

Italy experienced an earthquake. Everything is upside down after the European elections. Last year, in March 2018, after the general elections the Movement got the 32.68% of the vote, and the League got 17.35%. Now the situation is exactly the opposite. Well, not exactly. The difference is bigger in favor of Matteo Salvini’s force (34,3% against 17,1%).

“The government will not suffer repercussions”, Salvini told the press today. “Guess I will keep working together with Luigi di Maio”, the political leader of Five Stars. “I am still contact with him”.

Despite the official remarks, Salvini is working to steal M5S traditional allies in Europe. “Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party will be part of our group”, he said. Tomorrow the former Five Star MEP, Marco Zanni, just re-elected within the lists of the League, will be in Brussels to start negotiations in the framework of the creation of new parliamentary group, Salvini added.

The greatest fight will be with the European Commission and the other member of the Council of the EU. Salvini has no intention of respecting the stability and growth pact. “The coming months will be the months of courage and spending. With prudence and spending cuts, Italy risked extinction”. Now, it time to forget about austerity. “We need to spend in order to hire engineers, nurses, teachers… I’m sure everyone understood the instruction” coming from these European election.

Next week the European Commission will publish the country-specific recommendations. With the second highest public debt of the Eurozone and the EU as whole, it is clear that the executive body of the European Union will call for correcting the imbalances. Salvini already said he will not. The fight is about to start.

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