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POLITICS

Italian politician launches anti-EU party to push for ‘Italexit’

An Italian senator has launched a new political party aimed at taking Italy out of the European Union - but how much interest is there in "Italexit" among Italian voters?

Italian politician launches anti-EU party to push for 'Italexit'
Photo: AFP
Gianluigi Paragone, a former TV journalist, presented his “Italexit” party on Thursday, two days after a London meeting with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who was instrumental in Britain's vote to quit the EU.
 
 
Paragone pointed to a survey by the Piepoli Institute from the end of June, which found that around seven percent of Italians would be likely too vote for a party campaigning to leave the EU.
 
“Consensus will only grow further, in line with the lies Europe tells us,” he said.
 
Political analyst and poll expert Renato Mannheimer said Italians' feelings on the EU had “swung widely over the past few months… though we remain the country that trusts Brussels the least”.
 
Many Italian political commentators questioned the timing of the announcement; two days after Italy secured a whopping 209 billon euros in emergency funding from the bloc, or 28 percent of the total rescue fund, intended to help EU states recover from the coronavirus crisis.
 

 
There was a perceived initial failure on the bloc's part to respond quickly enough to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, but since then, support for the EU has risen again, Mannheimer said.
 
The large slice of the 750-billion euro recovery package earmarked for Italy would boost support further, he said.
 
“Most Italians don't want to leave the EU.Only around 30 percent – rising to 40 percent in some moments – say yes to leaving,” Mannheimer told AFP.
 
That figure rises slightly for Italians in favour of quitting the eurozone.
 
“I don't believe Paragone's party can build a large enough following for Italexit,” he said.
 
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Paragone, who has previous ties to far-right populist leader Matteo Salvini's League party, was elected with the Five Star Movement (M5S) 
 
He left soon after M5S formed the current Italian government with the pro-European Democratic Party (PD) last year.
 
Both M5S and the League, which are viewed as populist parties, have toned down their past anti-eurozone stance to appeal to more moderate voters

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POLITICS

Italian rivals pitch abroad in trilingual vote videos

Days after Italy's far-right leader made a multilingual appeal to foreign commentators to take her seriously, her main rival in September elections issued his own tit-for-tat video Saturday condemning her record.

Italian rivals pitch abroad in trilingual vote videos

Former prime minister Enrico Letta, leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, declared his pro-European credentials in a video in English, French and Spanish, while deriding the euroscepticism of Italy’s right-wing parties.

It echoes the trilingual video published this week by Giorgia Meloni, tipped to take power in the eurozone’s third largest economy next month, in which she sought to distance her Brothers of Italy party from its post-fascist roots.

“We will keep fighting to convince Italians to vote for us and not for them, to vote for an Italy that will be in the heart of Europe,” Letta said in English.

His party and Meloni’s are neck-and-neck in opinion polls ahead of September 25 elections, both with around 23 percent of support.

But Italy’s political system favours coalitions, and while Meloni is part of an alliance with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and anti-immigration leader Matteo Salvini, Letta has struggled to unite a fractured centre-left.

Speaking in French perfected in six years as a dean at Sciences Po university in Paris, Letta emphasised European solidarity, from which Italy is currently benefiting to the tune of almost 200 billion euros ($205 billion) in
post-pandemic recovery funds.

“We need a strong Europe, we need a Europe of health, a Europe of solidarity. And we can only do that if there is no nationalism inside European countries,” he said.

He condemned the veto that he said right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor “Orban — friends and allies of the Italian right — is using every time he can (to) harm Europe”.

In Spanish, Letta highlighted Meloni’s ties with Spain’s far-right party Vox, at whose rally she spoke earlier this summer, railing at the top of her voice against “LGBT lobbies”, Islamist violence, EU bureaucracy and mass
immigration.

In English, he condemned the economic legacy of Berlusconi, a three-time premier who left office in 2011 as Italy was on the brink of economic meltdown, but still leads his Forza Italia party.

Letta’s programme includes a focus on green issues — he intends to tour Italy in an electric-powered bus — and young people, but he has made beating Meloni a key plank of his campaign.

Meloni insisted in her video that fascism was in the past, a claim greeted with scepticism given her party still uses the logo of a flame used by the Italian Social Movement set up by supporters of fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

In a joint manifesto published this week, Meloni, Berlusconi and Salvini committed themselves to the EU but called for changes to its budgetary rules — and raised the prospect of renegotiating the pandemic recovery plan.

Elections were triggered by the collapse of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government last month, and are occurring against a backdrop of soaring inflation, a potential winter energy crisis and global uncertainty sparked by
the Ukraine war.

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