“Last Sunday’s vote shows that the emperor wears no clothes,” Matteo Salvini, the head of the re-branded Italian party The League, stated. He was referring to the results of the vote, which reflected increasing eurosceptic attitudes toward the European Union amid mass migration from Africa and a struggling economy.
“European policies have robbed us of the right to a future and to hope,” the politician added.
He also said that if he becomes the head of the government, he would focus on renegotiating treaties on trade and budget restrictions.
“The European Community was one thing, it was a community of equals. The European Union cancels, destroys. We are the rebuilders of the real European dream. I think the destroyers are the people sitting in the European Commission at the moment,” Salvini pointed out.
Salvini has transformed Lega Nord, a party which favored the interests of wealthy northern Italy over the country’s poor, agrarian south, into The League, a fiercely nationalist party which harshly criticizes EU policies and targets newcomers from the global south rather than the nation’s own Mezzogiorno region. Illegal immigration remains a burning issue in Italy’s politics, as the country has seen an unprecedented influx of migrants from Africa after the civil war in Libya began. Since then, Italians have been growing more and more concerned about migrant crime and growing unemployment.
The EU’s anti-Russian sanctions also incited ire due to retaliatory bans on the import of cheese, produce and other agricultural goods from Italy and other member nations; several Italian regional legislatures drafted resolutions demanding an end to the sanctions.
Salvini has vowed to repatriate about 100,000 illegal immigrants during his first year in office and another 400,000 during the remainder of his five-year term if he becomes the country’s next prime minister. Salvini is also known as an outspoken critic of the EU, with his party advocating an alternative vision for Europe and threatening a possible withdrawal from the bloc. In the wake of the successful election results, Salvini declared that Europe must be rebuilt “around people, but not bureaucracy,” and reiterated his belief that the EU’s currency, the euro, was “wrong” and would ultimately “end.”
Salvini’s League surpassed its main coalition ally, the establishment Forza Italia party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, with almost 18 percent of the vote. The center-right coalition, which also comprises right-wing Brothers of Italy and the Us with Italy party, is currently winning with 37.5 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, the pro-European ruling Democratic Party (PD) did not manage to receive even 20 percent of the vote.
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