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Giorgia Meloni gets personal as Italy votes

Via Laura Gozzi, BBC News, Rome

REUTERS/Yara Nardi Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni gestures at a polling station on European parliament election day, in Rome, Italy June 8REUTERS/Yara Nardi

Giorgia Meloni’s ratings have been stable since becoming Prime Minister in 2022

Italians have begun voting on the third of four days of European elections held across the 27 EU countries.

Although the vote is for the next European Parliament, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is hoping the result will tighten her control over Italian politics. She even urged voters to “just write Giorgia” on their ballots.

Most EU countries will vote on Sunday, after several chaotic weeks in which two European leaders and several other politicians were physically attacked.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen assaulted on the street in Copenhagen on Friday night, ahead of the vote in Denmark on Sunday.

Her office said she was lightly beaten and a suspect was taken into custody.

Leaders across Europe united in the face of the latest attack, in the middle of an election involving 373 million European voters.

Last month Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico survived an attempt on his life and only recently was allowed to leave the hospital. Several German political figures have also been targeted.

These elections were supposed to have no impact on national politics, but the reality was very different, especially in Italy.

Meloni, who leads the far-right Brothers of Italy (FdI), was appointed prime minister in 2022 and has taken the rare step of putting her name at the top of her party’s ballot, even though she has no intention to participate in an election. seats in the European Parliament.

Giorgia Meloni has enjoyed steady poll numbers since becoming prime minister in 2022, buoyed by a fragmented centrist and left-wing opposition as well as the gradual deterioration of her junior coalition partner, Matteo Salvini’s once-powerful populist League party, to which voters are being drawn by the FdI’s appeal.

In an effort to reverse this trend, Mr. Salvini has pushed his party’s position further to the right.

The League’s election posters – denouncing all manner of EU-backed initiatives, from electric cars to plastic bottle caps – attracted some ridicule but also attracted considerable attention .

Antonio Masiello/Getty Images Roberto Vannacci, Lega party candidate for the upcoming European elections and Italian Transport and Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini attend a political meeting organized by the Lega political party for upcoming European elections, at Piazza Santi Apostoli, on June 6, 2024 in Rome, ItalyAntonio Masiello/Getty Images

Matteo Salvini’s rhetoric has been matched by his leading candidate, army general Roberto Vannacci

Mr Salvini’s main candidate, Roberto Vannacci, had a similar impact. This army general was dismissed after self-publishing a book in which he expressed discriminatory and racist views. Since becoming the League’s candidate, he has doubled their lead.

Hardly a day goes by that Roberto Vannacci’s message is not amplified by the media. That could translate into votes for the League, but if not then trouble could befall Mr Salvini, whose leadership is starting to come into question.

Similar scrutiny will be applied to the results of the left-wing Democratic Party (PD), whose leader Elly Schlein will hope to achieve the 19% of the vote it won in last year’s election. 2019 if she continues to hold her position.

Further to the left, all eyes will be on Ilaria Salis – a self-described anti-fascist activist who has been detained in Hungary since 2023 on charges of participating in the beating of three far-right militants and is a member of a criminal association. She is currently running on the Left/Greens platform.

Italians will be able to vote until Sunday night when elections elsewhere in Europe have ended.

The Netherlands voted on Thursday, and a Dutch opinion poll suggests a tight race amid a green-left coalition, narrowly leading the Freedom Party of anti-Muslim populist Geert Wilders. The estimated turnout of 47% was the highest since 1989, refuting any suggestion that voters were bored with politics.

Irish and Czech voters went to the polls on Friday.

Slovakia, Latvia and Malta also vote on Saturday, while Czechs vote on Monday.

Several Czech parties from different political groups in the European Parliament have formed a common list of candidates as a “sanitary cordon” to counter populists from the former Prime Minister’s ANO party. Andrej Babis.

Germany is among the EU nations voting on Sunday and the latest polls suggest the center-right CDU/CSU could edge out Prime Minister Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats.

His party is vying for second place with coalition partners the Green Party and the far-right opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD). The AfD has been embroiled in a series of recent scandals over foreign interference, espionage and accusations of Nazism.

The outgoing EU Parliament

The outgoing EU Parliament

In France, the country with the second largest number of MEPs in parliament after Germany, President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party is also competing for second place with the rising Socialist party under the leadership of the top candidate. Raphaël Glucksmann’s head.

Both parties are closely following Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN), which has a consistently above 30% turnout.

Calling for high voter turnout in a television interview on the penultimate day of the campaign, Mr. Macron warned that “Europe has never been more threatened” by the rise of right-wing faction.

Other leaders have adopted a similar tone of urgency ahead of the EU vote.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who is recovering from surgery at home following last month’s assassination, returned to politics this week with a well-timed attack on Slovakia’s liberal opposition“anti-government media” and foreign-funded NGOs he said created the atmosphere of hatred and intolerance that made the shooting possible.

Hungary’s Viktor Orban – who has been the EU’s most vocal opponent of support for Ukraine – warns that Europe is reaching a point of no return in preventing conflict from spilling over Ukraine’s borders, and attacking what he calls the EU’s “war psychosis”.

Polls in Italy will close for the last time at 23:00 (21:00 GMT) Sunday.

A forecast, combining the first provisional results from some EU member states with estimates for the rest, will be released shortly after.


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