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Italy's Election Pits An Unpopular Establishment Against Extremists
05 March 2018, 12:26 | Bernice Figueroa
Italy's Parties hold final pre-poll rallies
The center-right Forza Italia has teamed up with three other parties, including the far-right Northern League.
Salvini has prime ministerial ambitions of his own and has indicated that he should receive the nomination if his party wins more votes than Berlusconi'sForza Italia (Go Italy).
At a rally in Florence, former premier Matteo Renzi of the center-left Democratic Party (PD) on Friday warned that Italy was "at a crossroads", referring to rising support for far-right parties and the left-wing eurosceptic 5 Star Movement (M5S).
Italy's center-left Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, has sought to sound the alarm, telling the newspaper Corriere della Sera on Friday that the election was the most important in a quarter-century, a "contest against populism" with the system of free markets and an open society at stake.
While Berlusconi is barred from running in the elections and can not become prime minister, owing to a 2013 tax fraud conviction, his party was polling at an average of 36 percent as of the most recent polls.
Populist parties have been on the rise across Europe since the 2008 financial crisis, but mainstream parties in Italy have found it especially hard to contain voter anger, with the economy still some six percent smaller than a decade ago and unemployment stuck at around 11 percent. "We will be the ones laughing on Monday when Italians will probably take us to 40%", its leader Maio said, according to the Guardian.
Economists say that like many party pledges, Italy can ill-afford the universal wage.
"M5S have been downplaying their Eurosceptic credentials of late and I would expect M5S's involvement in government to have a limited effect on Brexit negotiations - they'll still follow the same logic of self-interest of other European Union national governments after all", he told Express UK.
However despite their supporters' enthusiasm the final polls in the election indicate that Berlusconi's four-party right-wing alliance will win the most votes after his promises to expel 600,000 "irregular" migrants and slash taxes.
The poll also showed the PD party had around 21.3 percent of the vote. It's rejected coalition agreements in the past, but the party's leader recently told investors it might ally with other parties if the election produces no clear victor. The poll suggests around 30-35 percent of Italians were undecided, making the elections highly contentious.
Matteo Salvini, who leads the Northern League, said on Friday that he would borrow French President Emmanuel Macron's position that economic migrants must be returned to their countries of origin.
President Sergio Mattarella can not launch any formal coalition talks until after the new parliament has sat on March 23 and the next prime minister will need to win votes of confidence in both houses before taking office.
In elections in the USA and elsewhere in Europe, the far-Right had shifted the debate within the political establishment.
"I'm anxious about this fascist and racist revival", Carla Nespolo, the president of the anti-fascist group National Association of Italian Partisans, told the Independent in February.
"This isn't only an Italian problem: the loss of historical memory concerns Europe in general; 60,000 fascists appeared in the streets of Warsaw on 11 November".
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