Italy: Eurosceptic Populists Win, Mainstream Parties Lose

Italian 5-Star Movement’s candidate for the post of the Prime Minister, Luigi Di Maio, with Beppe Grillo (L) during the closing of the electoral campaign of the M5S in Rome, Italy, 02 March 2018. ANSA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO (ANSA via AP)

BY MICHAEL VAN DER GALIEN MARCH 5, 2018

Italy has been hit by a historic political earthquake. Sunday’s election results speak for themselves: the two populist parties (the Five Star Movement and Lega Nord) have won, while the establishment-mainstream parties have been all but wiped out.

The mostly leftist Five Star Movement (started by Beppe Grillo) took home more than 30 percent of the vote. Although progressive in most of its views, FSM is also eurosceptic, making its resounding victory a major problem for Brussels. The Five Star Movement’s brother-of-another-mother, the right-wing Lega Nord (Northern League), also performed extremely well with around 17 percent of the vote, making it Italy’s third party. Current governing party PD (Democrats) was barely able to fight off Lega by finishing second with a mere 19-20 percent of the vote.

And Berlusconi’s Forza Italia? They had to settle for fewer votes than Lega Nord, probably ending up with 13-15 percent.

Together, Lega Nord and the Five Star Movement could — theoretically — govern the country. Chances of them doing so are rather slim, however. As such, it’s likely that Italy will now have a hung parliament. As La Stampa splashed on its front page today: “Di Maio wins, Italy ungovernable.” Luigi Di Maio is FSM’s leader.

Be that as it may, Italy’s populists are celebrating the results. Lega Nord’s leader Matteo Salvini took to Twitter to thank voters:

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And Italy’s populists were joined in their celebration by other European populist leaders:

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It’s not unfathomable that even President Trump may extend his congratulations to both Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini. He already endorsed the latter back in 2016, telling him he hoped Salvini would be prime minister one day.

What’s more, Trump’s former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was in Rome for the election. He called on Five Star and Lega Nord to join forces with each other and with the “Brothers of Italy” party. The latter traces its lineage back to Italy’s fascist era. “I think if they create a coalition among all the populists it would be fantastic,” Bannon told newspaper Corriere della Sera. “It would pierce Brussels in the heart.”

Bannon is right on that one. If these parties join forces, EU bureaucrats will indeed immediately switch into full panic mode. It would put their entire project in jeopardy, because all parties involved are anti-EU, and have plans that are the complete opposite of the EU’s vision for Italy’s future.

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