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Italian election: How international politicians reacted to the result

The results of Italy's election show deep losses for the governing centre-left, massive gains for the Five Star Movement, and the populist league the dominant force in a right-wing coalition. Here's how world leaders have reacted.

Italian election: How international politicians reacted to the result
League leader Matteo Salvini (far right) with leaders of European populist parties including Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen at their European Parliament's Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) congress

Germany: 'Try to form a government quicker than we did'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman on Monday wished post-election Italy success in forming a “stable government”, adding that he hoped Rome wouldn't take six months as Berlin just did.

“Italy is our friend and partner, and we wish those responsible success in forming a stable government, for the benefit of Italians as well as of our common Europe,” said Steffen Seibert.

Asked whether Merkel would soon want to meet Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement, Seibert stressed that the final result of the vote was still outstanding.

“And of course contact will be established with the next Italian government, whatever its makeup,” Seibert told a regular news conference.

Asked about any advice Germany had for Italy, Seibert said that “one wants to wish everyone that it doesn't take six months”, referring to the country's own half-year of government paralysis.

ANALYSIS: Understanding the election result, and what happens now?

France: 'Migration was key factor in vote'

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that “migration pressure” had played a key role in Italy's general election which saw a surge in support for anti-establishment and far-right parties.

He said the results needed to be be interpreted in the context of “major migration pressure” that had “undeniably” affected the country, which is the main landing spot for hundreds of thousands of migrants from Africa each year.

Asked about the impact of eurosceptic parties making gains in Italy, Macron replied: “France will continue to defend a Europe that protects, a Europe of ambition.”

READ ALSO: What does Italy's election result mean for the EU?

Russia: 'Want Italy to be a good partner'

A spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the Italian election was “an internal matter” when asked for comment, Ansa reported, adding that Italians “have the right to vote for parties they see as the future of their country”.

Putin also said that it was in Russia's interest for Italy to remain a “good partner”.

Leftwing Israeli newspaper Haaretz ran a column on Monday with the headline: 'Vladimir Putin just won Italy's election'. It was indeed good news for the Russian President, despite a disappointing result for his long-time ally Silvio Berlusconi. Both the Five Star Movement and League have called for an end on sanctions to Russia, and League leader Salvini has made several trips to the country — on one of them, in March 2017, he signed a 'collaboration agreement' with the deputy speaker of the Russian parliament on behalf of Putin's party.

Celebrations from European populists

Across Europe, leaders of populist parties celebrated the result, including Geert Wilders (leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom), Marine Le Pen (President of France's National Front) and Nigel Farage (former leader of the UK's UKIP).

The spectacular progression of the League, led by our ally and friend Matteo Salvini, and its arrival at the head of the coalition, is a new stage of the people's awakening! Warm congratulations!

The Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the European Parliament also shared comments from Farage praising the Five Star Movement.

 

ITALIAN POLITICS

Italian government rocked by Five Star party split

Italy’s government was plunged into turmoil on Tuesday as foreign minister Luigi Di Maio announced he was leaving his party to start a breakaway group.

Italian government rocked by Five Star party split

Di Maio said his decision to leave the Five Star Movement (M5S) – the party he once led – was due to its “ambiguity” over Italy’s support of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

He accused the party’s current leader, former prime minister Giuseppe Conte, of undermining the coalition government’s efforts to support Ukraine and weakening Italy’s position within the EU.

“Today’s is a difficult decision I never imagined I would have to take … but today I and lots of other colleagues and friends are leaving the Five Star Movement,” Di Maio told a press conference on Tuesday.

“We are leaving what tomorrow will no longer be the first political force in parliament.”

His announcement came after months of tensions within the party, which has lost most of the popular support that propelled it to power in 2018 and risks being wiped out in national elections due next year.

The split threatens to bring instability to Draghi’s multi-party government, formed in February 2021 after a political crisis toppled the previous coalition.

As many as 60 former Five Star lawmakers have already signed up to Di Maio’s new group, “Together for the Future”, media reports said.

Di Maio played a key role in the rise of the once anti-establishment M5S, but as Italy’s chief diplomat he has embraced Draghi’s more pro-European views.

READ ALSO: How the rebel Five Star Movement joined Italy’s establishment

Despite Italy’s long-standing political and economic ties with Russia, Draghi’s government has taken a strongly pro-NATO stance, sending weapons and cash to help Ukraine while supporting EU sanctions against Russia.

Di Maio backed the premier’s strong support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, including sending weapons for Kyiv to defend itself.

In this he has clashed with the head of Five Star, former premier Giuseppe Conte, who argues that Italy should focus on a diplomatic solution.

Di Maio attacked his former party without naming Conte, saying: “In these months, the main political force in parliament had the duty to support the diplomacy of the government and avoid ambiguity. But this was not the case,” he said.

Luigi Di Maio (R) applauds after Prime Minister Mario Draghi (L) addresses the Italian Senate on June 21st, 2022. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

“In this historic moment, support of European and Atlanticist values cannot be a mistake,” he added.

The Five Star Movement, he said, had risked the stability of the government “just to try to regain a few percentage points, without even succeeding”.

But a majority of lawmakers – including from the Five Star Movement – backed Draghi’s approach in March and again in a Senate vote on Tuesday.

Draghi earlier on Tuesday made clear his course was set.

“Italy will continue to work with the European Union and with our G7 partners to support Ukraine, to seek peace, to overcome this crisis,” he told the Senate, with Di Maio at his side.

“This is the mandate the government has received from parliament, from you. This is the guide for our action.”

The Five Star Movement stormed to power in 2018 general elections after winning a third of the vote on an anti-establishment ticket, and stayed in office even after Draghi was parachuted in to lead Italy in February 2021.

But while it once threatened to upend the political order in Italy, defections, policy U-turns and dismal polling have left it struggling for relevance.

“Today ends the story of the Five Star Movement,” tweeted former premier Matteo Renzi, who brought down the last Conte government by withdrawing his support.

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