European elections in Italy: Five things to watch

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European elections in Italy: Five things to watch
The EU parliament building in Strasbourg. Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Italy goes to the polls on May 26th to elect members of the European Parliament, from modern-day Mussolinis to anti-mafia hunters.


Here are five key things to watch.

Q&A: What you need to know about taking part in the European elections if you're in Italy

Salvini everywhere

Interior minister Matteo Salvini tops the list for his anti-immigrant League party in all five Italian constituencies -- despite saying he has no intention of returning to the European Parliament. His bids to form an alliance with right-wing populist and nationalist parties across the continent have struggled to gain traction.

Matteo Salvini (centre) with members of Finnish, German and Danish nationalist parties. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

With the League now Italy's most popular party, with over 30 percent of voter intentions according to opinion polls, it is counting on the European elections to assert its authority in Italy and Europe.

Five Star Women

Luigi Di Maio, head of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), which governs in a coalition with the League, has nominated five women to lead his lists: an entrepreneur, a professor, two civil servants and a journalist.

Di Maio won the necessary support from the movement's members online, but there was grumbling over his decision to choose unknown figures who have had little experience within M5S to date.

The movement can ill afford to do badly: it has been losing ground since coming to power in June and flopped in a series of local elections, including in the south, which was once its power base.

Berlusconi back? 

Billionaire Silvio Berlusconi is hoping for his umpteenth political comeback. The 82-year old has shrugged off legal woes to throw his hat into the ring once more for his centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party, which he founded 25 years ago.

Silvio Berlusconi on the campaign trail. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Once renowned for his "bunga bunga" erotic dinner parties, Berlusconi is trying to reinvent himself as an experienced statesman who can save Italy from populism -- while maintaining good ties with the League.

Mafia hunter, migrant saver

Back in 2014, a record 40 percent of Italians voted for the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) under Matteo Renzi. Now the party would be pleased to win just half that number of ballots.

The new leader, Nicola Zingaretti, has asked some of civil society's most symbolic figures to help the left recover. Among them are Franco Roberti, a renowned magistrate and former national anti-mafia prosecutor, and Pietro Bartolo, a famous doctor from the island of Lampedusa, the front line for migrant rescues in the Mediterranean.

Anti-mafia prosecutor Franco Roberti. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The Mussolinis

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's granddaughter, sitting MEP Alessandra Mussolini, 56, is running for Berlusconi's FI party, while her cousin's son Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini, 50, is running for the small, far-right Brothers of Italy party.

They are on lists in different constituencies and both are being given good odds.

READ ALSO: Mussolini's great-grandson is standing for the EU elections in Italy



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