‘Critical’ vote could move Italy to the right; Many people can boycott

ROME (AP) – Italians will vote on Sunday in what is being billed as a crucial election as Europe grapples with the fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine., For the first time in Italy since the end of World War II, the election could inspire a far-right leader in the Premiership.

rising energy costs And the rapid rise in prices for staples such as bread – the result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s breadbasket – has shocked many Italian families and businesses.

Against that bleak background, Giorgia Melonic And the brethren of his Italy party – with neo-fascist roots and an agenda of God, Motherland and Christian identity – appear to be at the forefront of Italy’s parliamentary election.

They could be a test case for whether hard-right sentiment is gaining more traction in the 27-nation EU. Recently, a right-wing party in Sweden grew in popularity by capitalizing on people’s fears about crime.

Meloni’s main coalition partner is Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing League party, who accuses the migrants of crimes. Salvini has long been a staunch ideological booster of right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland.

Nathalie Tosi, director of the Rome-based think tank, said, “Elections in the middle of a war, between an energy crisis and what is likely to be an economic crisis … are important elections almost by definition.” Institute of International Affairs.

Tosi told the Associated Press that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who ordered Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, is gambling that “Europe will fall apart” under the weight of the economic and energy problems brought on by the war.

Salvini, who gets his voter base from business owners in the north of Italy, has worn pro-Putin T-shirts in the past. Salvini has also questioned the prudence of maintaining Western economic sanctions against Russia, saying they could do great harm to Italy’s economic interests.

Publication of the polls was halted 15 days before Sunday’s vote, but before that he indicated Meloni’s party would be the party receiving the largest number of votes, just ahead of the centre-left Democratic Party, headed by former premier Enrico Letta.

A campaign coalition linking Meloni to conservative allies Salvini and former premier Silvio Berlusconi provides a clear advantage over Letta under Italy’s complicated system of dividing seats in parliament.

Letta had expressed vain hope for a campaign alliance with the left-leaning populist 5-Star Movement, the largest party in the outgoing legislature.

While it is a frightening moment for Europe, Sunday’s election could see modern Italy’s lowest turnout. The last election, 2018, saw a record-low turnout of 73%. Pollster Lorenzo Pregliasco says that this time the percentage could drop to 66%.

Pregliasco, who heads the YouTrend polling company, says Italy’s last three different governing coalitions have left Italians “unaffected, disappointed” since the last election. They don’t see their vote as something that matters.”

The outgoing government is headed by Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank. In early 2021, Italy’s president tapped Draghi to form a unity government following the collapse of 5-star leader Giuseppe Conte’s second ruling coalition.

In what Pregliasco called an “obvious contradiction”, the survey indicates that “the majority of Italians like Draghi and think his government has done a good job.” Still, Meloni, the only major party leader to refuse to join Draghi’s coalition, is voting the strongest.

As Tosi put it, Meloni’s party is so popular “simply because it’s the new kid on the block.”

Draghi has said he does not want another term.

To Meloni’s annoyance, criticism still haunts him that he did not make a clear break with his party’s roots in a neo-fascist movement founded by nostalgia for dictator Benito Mussolini after his regime’s disastrous role in World War II. has made. During the campaign, she declared that she was “no threat to democracy.”

Some political analysts say that the concern for the fascist question is not their main concern.

“I fear incompetence, not the fascist threat,” said Roberto D’Alimonte, a professor of political science at LUISS, a private university in Rome. “He hasn’t governed anything.”

Meloni served as youth minister in Berlusconi’s previous government, which ended a decade earlier.

Instead, his main right-wing coalition ally is of concern, D’Limonte told The AP.

“Salvini will be the troubleshooter, not Meloni,” he said. “This Meloni is not calling for an end to sanctions against Russia. Salvini is. This Meloni is not calling for more debt or more deficits. Salvini is.”

But recent events have raised the concern of the Italian brothers.

A candidate for the Italian Brothers in Sicily was suspended by his party after he posted on social media phrases showing admiration for Hitler. Separately, the brother of one of Meloni’s co-founders was seen giving a fascist salute at a relative’s funeral. The brother denied what he was doing.

After hundreds of thousands of migrants arrived on Italy’s shores aboard smugglers’ boats or ships, the right wing has been fighting for years against the unbridled immigration that rescued them in the Mediterranean. Both Meloni and Salvini see this as an invasion of foreigners, which they do not share the “Christian” character of Italy.

Letta, which wants to facilitate citizenship for the children of legal immigrants, has also played the fear card. In his party’s campaign, in advertisements for buses, half the image depicts the serious-looking Letta, with his one-word motto, “Choose,” and the other half depicts an ominous-looking image of Putin. Both Salvini and Berlusconi have expressed admiration for the Russian leader. Meloni supports arms supplies so Ukraine can defend itself.

How to save workers’ jobs among Italian voters’ concerns, with an energy bill 10 times higher than a year ago.

But perhaps with the exception of Salvini, who wants to revisit Italy’s closed nuclear power plants, candidates It has not distinguished itself in proposing solutions to the energy crisis. Almost all are pushing for EU limits on gas prices.

Climate change threats are not big in the Italian campaign. Italy’s smaller Greens party, Letta’s campaign partner, is projected to hold barely a few seats in parliament.

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Colleen Barry reported from Milan. Sabrina Sergi contributed to this Rome report.

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