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POLITICS

Italian politician launches anti-EU party to push for ‘Italexit’

An Italian senator has launched a new political party aimed at taking Italy out of the European Union - but how much interest is there in "Italexit" among Italian voters?

Italian politician launches anti-EU party to push for 'Italexit'
Photo: AFP
Gianluigi Paragone, a former TV journalist, presented his “Italexit” party on Thursday, two days after a London meeting with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who was instrumental in Britain's vote to quit the EU.
 
 
Paragone pointed to a survey by the Piepoli Institute from the end of June, which found that around seven percent of Italians would be likely too vote for a party campaigning to leave the EU.
 
“Consensus will only grow further, in line with the lies Europe tells us,” he said.
 
Political analyst and poll expert Renato Mannheimer said Italians' feelings on the EU had “swung widely over the past few months… though we remain the country that trusts Brussels the least”.
 
Many Italian political commentators questioned the timing of the announcement; two days after Italy secured a whopping 209 billon euros in emergency funding from the bloc, or 28 percent of the total rescue fund, intended to help EU states recover from the coronavirus crisis.
 

 
There was a perceived initial failure on the bloc's part to respond quickly enough to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, but since then, support for the EU has risen again, Mannheimer said.
 
The large slice of the 750-billion euro recovery package earmarked for Italy would boost support further, he said.
 
“Most Italians don't want to leave the EU.Only around 30 percent – rising to 40 percent in some moments – say yes to leaving,” Mannheimer told AFP.
 
That figure rises slightly for Italians in favour of quitting the eurozone.
 
“I don't believe Paragone's party can build a large enough following for Italexit,” he said.
 
READ ALSO: 
 
Paragone, who has previous ties to far-right populist leader Matteo Salvini's League party, was elected with the Five Star Movement (M5S) 
 
He left soon after M5S formed the current Italian government with the pro-European Democratic Party (PD) last year.
 
Both M5S and the League, which are viewed as populist parties, have toned down their past anti-eurozone stance to appeal to more moderate voters

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ITALIAN ELECTIONS

Berlusconi to run for Senate in Italy’s elections

Scandal-plagued former premier Silvio Berlusconi said he plans to return to Italy's parliament in upcoming elections, almost a decade after being forced out over a conviction for tax fraud.

Berlusconi to run for Senate in Italy's elections

“I think that, in the end, I will be present myself as a candidate for the Senate, so that all these people who asked me will finally be happy,” the 85-year-old billionaire and media mogul told Rai radio on Wednesday.

After helping bring down Prime Minister Mario Draghi last month by withdrawing its support, Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia party looks set to return to power in elections on September 25th.

It is part of a right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy, which includes Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration League.

Berlusconi brushed off reports he is worried about the possibility of Meloni – whose motto is “God, country and family” – becoming prime minister.

Noting the agreement between the parties that whoever wins the most votes chooses the prime minister, he said: “If it is Giorgia, I am sure she will prove capable of the difficult task.”

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

But he urged voters to back his party as the moderate voice in the coalition, emphasising its European, Atlanticist stance.

“Every extra vote in Forza Italia will strengthen the moderate, centrist profile of the coalition,” he said in a separate interview published Wednesday in the Il Giornale newspaper.

League party leader Matteo Salvini (L), Fratelli d’Italia leader Giorgia Meloni and Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi pictured in October 2021. The trio look set to take power following snap elections in September. Photo by CLAUDIO PERI / ANSA / AFP

Berlusconi was Italy’s prime minister three times in the 1990s and 2000s, but has dominated public life for far longer as head of a vast media and sports empire.

The Senate expelled him in November 2013 following his conviction for tax fraud, and he was banned from taking part in a general election for six years.

He was elected to the European Parliament in 2019, however, and threw his hat in the ring earlier this year to become Italy’s president — although his candidacy was predictably short-lived.

Berlusconi remains a hugely controversial figure  in Italy and embroiled in the many legal wrangles that have characterised his long career.

He remains on trial for allegedly paying guests to lie about his notorious “bunga-bunga” sex parties while prime minister.

Berlusconi has also suffered a string of health issues, some related to his hospitalisation for coronavirus in September 2020, after which he said he had almost died.

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