Italy: Salvini's 'black' offensive ahead of the 2024 European elections
At the call of the leader of the League, Matteo Salvini, and the Identity and Democracy group in the European Parliament, a dozen delegations of Eurosceptic and anti-migrant parties are gathering this Sunday 3 December in Florence to launch their campaign for the European elections in June.
Matteo Salvini, alongside Giorgia Meloni, on October 25, 2022. © AP/Alessandra Tarantino
By: RFI Follow
with our correspondent in Rome, Anne Le Nir
Some two thousand participants are expected in the Tuscan city. But two heavyweights will be absent. Marine Le Pen, replaced by the president of the National Rally, Jordan Bardella, and the Dutchman Geert Wilders, who is struggling to form a government coalition, after the victory of his Party for Freedom in the legislative elections on 22nd November.
The choice of Florence, one of the few major cities administered by a left-wing mayor, a red bastion in a country dominated for more than a year by the right and the far right, is yet another provocation on the part of Matteo Salvini, head of the League and deputy prime minister. He says he chose Florence "because it embodies the image of the Italian Renaissance around the world." As for the official objective of the gathering, it aims to define a common political project for another Europe that puts the values of identity patriotism back at the centre.
Giorgia Meloni stands out
Although a member of the right-wing and far-right executive, Matteo Salvini is not supported in this initiative by Giorgia Meloni's Fratelli d'Italia or Forza Italia. The head of government, whose party is a member of the European group of conservatives and reformists, is keen to distance herself from the League by adopting a more moderate position. As for Forza Italia, a member of the European People's Party, its leader and head of diplomacy, Antonio Tajani, declared "We will never ally ourselves with forces like the National Rally or the AfD" Alternative für Deutschland. Matteo Salvini will therefore try to win back sovereigntist voters.
But according to the latest polls, the League is getting less than 10% of the vote while it won 39% of the vote in the 2019 European elections. We can therefore expect tensions within the government coalition between now and June 2024. However, these dissensions should not call into question Giorgia Meloni's leadership.
Read alsoItaly: Giorgia Meloni wants to elect the head of government by direct universal suffrage
What is the response of the anti-racists?
The opposition will try to make itself heard in the face of Matteo Salvini's black offensive. While the centre-left is quite weak at the national level, anti-fascism, anti-racism and Europeanism remain very much rooted in Tuscany. The mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, gave his support to the demonstrations launched by the Florentine Democratic Network and the Florence anti-fascist movement, but asked to avoid any violence "that would play into Salvini's hands". That said, the city of Dante Alighieri and Michelangelo is not immune to strong tensions on this very special day.
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