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‘I plan to leave’: Foreigners in Italy fear for their futures if far right wins election

The Local Italy
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‘I plan to leave’: Foreigners in Italy fear for their futures if far right wins election
Giorgia Meloni, Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi (L-R), the leaders of the right-wing coalition expected to sweep to power following elections on September 25th. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Increased discrimination and loss of rights are among the fears Italy’s foreign residents have if the post-fascist Brothers of Italy lead a new government after the elections.


Known for her strongly nationalist and anti-immigrant views as well as opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d'Italia, or FdI) leader Giorgia Meloni is set to become the next prime minister of Italy after her party stormed to the top of opinion polls.

As Meloni and her coalition partner Matteo Salvini have made anti-immigration policies a central part of their campaign, and are expected to make the lives of foreign nationals in Italy more difficult once in power, we asked readers of The Local how they feel about the likely outcome of the election on September 25th.

READ ALSO: How would victory for Italy's far right impact foreigners’ lives?

Almost 100 people responded, most of them foreign nationals living in Italy, the majority British, Irish, or American.


While some readers were pragmatic and a couple were positive about the prospect of a far-right government, the mood of the vast majority of readers in Italy could be summed up by comments including: “Great concerns.” “Disturbed.” “Horrified.”

In general, readers’ worries covered three areas: potential changes to immigration law that may affect their rights in Italy; fears of a culture of increased discrimination or hatred towards non-Italians, women and LGBT people; and worries about Italy’s economy and place on the international stage, particularly within the European Union.

“I’m very very concerned, as an immigrant, as someone who believes in social justice and women's rights,” said Rhonda Struminger in Padova, who is married to an Italian and has two daughters who are both Italian citizens.

READ ALSO: Who is Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s likely next prime minister?

Giorgia Meloni, leader of far-right Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy) party, is expected to become Italy's next prime minister. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

“Being white and English, I am not necessarily concerned about my own status as I am not the target of Lega and FdI’s ire! However it does raise concerns about knock-on effects for Italy’s economy and international standing,” said Jim in Milan

Dennis from Rome commented: “My concern is FdI is a wolf in sheep's clothing and what will follow will be a true fascist agenda emerging."

While Meloni rejects accusations that FdI is a fascist party, it is a political descendant of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), formed by supporters of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

“My father fought fascism in the second world war. He’d turn in his grave if he thought we would even entertain the thought of the far right,” said Penelope Hart in Rome.

“I’m so sorry this is possible in Italy, and I feel ashamed and embarrassed.”

Several readers said they were seriously thinking of leaving Italy if a far-right government takes power..

“I plan to leave the country if Meloni wins. There has been a rise in bigotry and intolerance where I live in Friuli, encouraged by politicians,” said one Danish reader. “It is becoming too much to deal with and I don’t want to raise my child in this environment.”

Another reader in Emilia said they would “probably consider moving out of the country” while an Englishman in the province of Modena told us “if it starts to affect my life here then I will leave”.

READ ALSO: Will Italy’s hard right win the election with a ‘super majority’?

One reader from Boston said: “This is selfish, but as someone who owns a second home in Italy and plans to retire here soon, my main concern is that the visa process may become stricter and we’d no longer be welcome.”

A reader from the UK said she was concerned that the Italian citizenship application process "could be made more difficult again", referring to changes made by Salvini when his League party was previously in government.

Several readers said that even if they're not personally affected, the expected election result would change the way they see Italy.

“It will reveal Italy's worst instincts,” said American Ann Steinbrun, who has lived in Friuli Venezia Giulia since 1986.


“It would disappoint me and force me to acknowledge that Italy is not making the right kinds of changes toward acceptance and respect of all people regardless of nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual identity, gender,” said another American reader in Certaldo. “They would be taking a huge step backward.”

Some readers said they were more concerned about Salvini than Meloni, while others were critical of the political system overall.

There are “too many parties, too much noise, and don't think much changes to the benefit of the public living here”, said Judy Tong in Palermo.

Some of those who responded said they weren't sure what to expect, and others told us they'll wait and see what happens before forming any conclusions.

Liam Delaney in Sicily said: "Only time will tell".

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to our survey. Please feel free to leave any further comments below this article.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
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Anonymous 2022/09/20 16:51
How can anyone with a straight face point to the depravity of Trumpian politics and the long term schisms it has created in the US and brush its impact off so lightly? Climate change, wars and geo-political shifts mainly involving western countries have created the environment where mass migration was always going to be an inevitability, the vast vast majority of those seeking refuge or even "economic migrants" are hard working, industrious and keen to assimilate and I've witnessed that in the UK and on my many travels to Italy.
Anonymous 2022/09/19 19:08
LOL. I Left Italy last year, i,m sorry now as I think Meloni is one of the best politician anywhere. I,m so pleased Italy will have the government it rightly deserves and I hope those complete idiots the PD disappear forever.
Anonymous 2022/09/19 03:11
Anyone who calls EU socialist is a muppet. Pay them no heed, they understand nothing. The move to the far-right lessens Italy, the EU and the West, and will only embolden tyrants like Putin.
Anonymous 2022/09/16 15:49
If anyone feels they need to leave Italy because of a right-wing government, then excellent. Grab your things and go! Because of the gigantic mess left by the centre-left, hard left and the socialists in Brussels, no government is able to do much anyway.
Anonymous 2022/09/15 13:25
It seems to me that there are a lot of alarmist comments just like those who predicted “doom and I’m going to flee the country “ after Trump was elected. How many really did, even of those with famous faces? No one who comes to Italy as a legal migrant need fear. Honest people coming here fulfilling the requirements are welcome, as we have experienced. I have no plans to “flee”!
Anonymous 2022/09/14 19:45
well given the short time a government lasts in this country I think its best to just sit back and wait for a breakup of the coalition , they all want to be boss and they fall out very quickly .
Anonymous 2022/09/14 18:32
I urge anyone who is worried about Italy’s future to read Lampedusa great novel, “The Leopard” (Il Gattpardo). In sum, its message is that in order for things to remain the same in Italy, everything has to change. Italians will understand this in terms of the word, “gattopardismo”.

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