Italy: Antisystem tidal wave, the far right claims power

Ⓒ AFP – Piero CRUCIATTI – | League leader Matteo Salvini at a press conference in
Rome on March 5, 2018

A historic breakthrough of antisystem and Eurosceptic
forces, the majority after the legislative elections on Sunday,
plunges uncertainty into Italy, where the leader of the far
right has claimed responsibility for leading the
government.

With a vote marked both by the rejection of the old
political class, the exasperation against the economic slump
and the tensions around migrants, Italy is in line with the
Brexit, the victory of Donald Trump to the States United States
and the push of the far right elsewhere in Europe.

“For the first time in Europe, anti-system forces have won,”
said the columnist for the daily La Stampa.

The right-wing coalition led the way with 37 percent of the
vote, according to partial results on 95 percent of polling
stations.

But within it, it is the formation eurosceptique and
anti-immigration of the chief of the League Matteo Salvini,
close to the National Front (FN) French, which largely preceded
the party of Silvio Berlusconi.

Ⓒ AFP – Thorsten EBERDING – | Legislative elections in Italy

“I am someone who keeps his word and the commitment was made
within the coalition: who wins can govern,” Salvini said, as a
call to the old billionaire to keep his promise.

“We have the right and the duty to govern in the coming
years,” he insisted, even though the coalition does not seem
able to have a majority in Parliament.

But this perspective is undermined by the historic
breakthrough of the 5 Stars Movement (M5S, antisystem), which
becomes the first party in the country with a score exceeding
32%.

– No ‘strange majority’ –

From now on, “everyone will have to talk with us,” said
Alessandro Di Battista, one of the leaders of the movement,
after a campaign against corruption and the “caste” of Italian
politics.

Ⓒ AFP – AFP – | Matteo Salvini

Mr. Salvini assured that he would speak “with everyone” but
excluded before the press any agreement “of strange majority”
with the M5S: “N, O, N, NO, and underline three times!”.

The young leader, who turns 45 on Friday, has transformed
the former secessionist Northern League into a sovereignist
formation and hammered out an anti-immigration and defiant
speech against Brussels, which seems to have taken place in a
country plagued by violence. Euroscepticism, which has seen
nearly 700,000 migrants land since 2013.

Silvio Berlusconi, who had come to Brussels as the only
bulwark against populists and anti-euro forces, has lost his
bet and he is not sure that he agrees to get behind Salvini.
The old billionaire has not spoken since Sunday night.

Abroad, Marine Le Pen, president of the FN, sent via Twitter
his “warm congratulations” to Mr. Salvini, believing that his
“spectacular progress” was “a new stage of the awakening of
peoples”.

Ⓒ AFP – Sabrina BLANCHARD, Thomas SAINT-CRICQ – | The rise of the nationalist right in Europe

Nigel Farage, former head of Ukip, a pro-Brexit party in
Britain, congratulated his “colleagues” on the M5S on
Twitter.

This movement, founded by the comic Beppe Grillo in 2009,
had already created a surprise by winning 25% of the votes in
the last legislative elections of 2013, and ensures a central
position in the future Parliament.

– ‘No form of governability’ –

The Democratic Party (PD, center left) of Matteo Renzi and
the outgoing government, for its part, recorded a stronger drop
than expected, with about 19% of the vote, according to the
partial results, less than half of the votes cast. 40% achieved
in the 2014 European elections.

Ⓒ AFP – Claudio GIOVANNINI – | Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Florence
on 4 March 2018

“It is clear that for us it is an obvious defeat,” commented
Maurizio Martina, one of the highest officials of the PD.

This is also the whole of the left who drinks the cup. The
rebels of Liberi e uguali (free and equal, left), are barely
above the threshold of 3% necessary to enter the
Parliament.

The probable absence of majority for the right-wing
coalition as for the M5S forces the Italian political leaders
to calculations and negotiations, which look long and
complex.

“The winners of this electoral battle are Matteo Salvini and
Luigi di Maio”, the leader of the M5S, but “all this does not
lead to any form of governability,” says the editorialist La
Stampa.

At the Milan Stock Exchange, however,
the financial markets took the news with relative serenity: the
FTSE Mib index opened down 2% before oscillating between -0.5%
and -1% all morning. In contrast, Mediaset, Berlusconi’s media
empire, and bank stocks lost more than 5%.

It will now be up to Italian President Sergio Mattarella to
unravel the skein in the coming weeks. But his official
political consultations will not open until the end of the
month, once elected presidents of both chambers.

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