Italy to choose ‘Europe or nationalism’ at election, says PD leader

The coming election will be ‘the most crucial Italian vote in the history of Europe’ with a clear choice affecting the future of the EU, said Democratic Party (PD) leader Enrico Letta on Tuesday.

Italy to choose ‘Europe or nationalism’ at election, says PD leader
Democratic Party (PD) leader Enrico Letta (L) walks past Brothers of Italy (FdI) party leader Giorgia Meloni in parliament. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / POOL / AFP

Letta said “the choice is between us and Meloni”, framing the election as a contest between PD and other centre-left, pro-EU parties, and the Eurosceptic, hard-right alliance including Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy (FdI) party.

EXPLAINED: Who’s likely to win Italy’s early elections?

“The election will give a clear result and it will go in one direction or another,” Letta told a PD meeting in parliament on Wednesday.

“There won’t be a draw.”

FdI is currently top of the opinion polls, with the support of around 23-25 percent of the electorate on Wednesday, news agency Ansa reported.

The PD was a close second, polling at around 22-23 percent.

The electoral success of either party depends on their ability to form a coalition of allies who would take a large enough share of the vote between them – and also be able to form a government.

FdI’s allies, Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, were polling at 12-13 percent and 7-8 percent respectively.

A right-wing coalition led by Forza Italia, Fratelli d'Italia and League is predicted to win Italy's next election.

A right-wing coalition led by Forza Italia, Fratelli d’Italia and League is predicted to win Italy’s next election. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP.

The three parties, which have long-standing ties, are expected to easily gain the majority needed to form a government between them.

Meanwhile the centre-left’s position is far less clear, with PD currently refusing to ally with the Five Star Movement (M5S) after it triggered the crisis of government that led to premier Mario Draghi’s resignation, and the collapse of his broad coalition government.

Other centrist and left-wing groups that could potentially ally with the PD are polling at around five percent or below.

Election campaigning is not yet underway, but divisions were already showing on Wednesday as the leaders of the right-wing coalition met to discuss their battle plan ahead of the election of September 25th.

READ ALSO: Why has Italy’s government collapsed in the middle of summer?

The main topic of discussions between the trio is that of who would become prime minister in the event of their victory.

Meloni, whose party has a Christian nationalist, anti-immigration and eurosceptic programme, said this week that without agreeing a premier in advance, “the alliance to govern together is useless”

But Salvini’s League wants the party with the largest number of votes to make the choice, hoping that its own numbers will improve.

Salvini has indicated he will content himself for now with another interior minister position – though he has long had his eye on the top job.

Media reports meanwhile suggest Berlusconi is concerned that naming Meloni as premier now would alienate voters alarmed by her extreme views.

Forza Italia has suffered a wave of defections since it pulled out of Draghi’s government last week, with nine lawmakers including three ministers quitting.

Berlusconi has so far appeared reluctant to talk about whether he’d be interested in another stint as prime minister at the age of 85.

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Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

An Italian centre-left election pact broke down on Sunday just days after it was formed, leaving the path to power clear for the hard-right coalition.

Italy’s hard right set for election victory after left-wing alliance collapses

The alliance between Italian centre-left parties was left in disarray on Sunday night, potentially meaning a landslide victory for the hard-right coalition at early general elections in September.

The leader of the centrist Azione party withdrew support for the left-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party (PD) just five days after the two joined forces, saying it could not work with left-wingers brought in to boost the alliance.

Carlo Calenda, leader of Azione, withdrew his support on Sunday after PD made another pact with smaller left-wing parties including the radical Sinistra Italiana, and new green party Europa Verde.

“You cannot explain (to voters) that to defend the constitution you make a pact with people you know you will never govern with,” Calenda told newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The news was greeted with jubilation by hard-right League leader Matteo Salvini, who tweeted: “On the left chaos and everyone against everyone!”

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the neofascist Brothers of Italy party (FdI) mocked a “new twist in the soap opera of the centre-left.”

READ ALSO: Italy to choose ‘Europe or nationalism’ at election, says PD leader

Analyists predict the centre-left split could hand the right-wing bloc a landslide victory at the election on September 25th, with Meloni tipped to become Italy’s first female prime minister.

Italy’s political system favours coalitions, and while Meloni has a strong alliance with Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Letta is struggling to bring together the disparate  progressive parties.

The PD is neck and neck with Brothers of Italy in the latest opinion polls, but even in partnership with Azione, the group most recently polled at 33.6 percent, compared with 46.4 percent for the right.

Political commentators said the only hope PD has now of posing a credible threat to the right-wing alliance would be by partnering with the Five Star Movement.

READ ALSO: Why has Italy’s government collapsed in the middle of summer?

However, Letta has repeatedly said this is out of the question, as he blames M5S for triggering the political crisis that brought down Mario Draghi’s broad coalition government.

“Either PD eats its hat and seeks alliance with M5S to defeat the right-wing coalition, or it’s hard to see how the right can possibly lose the forthcoming election,” Dr Daniele Albertazzi, a politics professor at the University of Surrey in England, tweeted on Sunday.

Early elections were called after Draghi resigned in late July. His government currently remains in place in a caretaker role.