Tensions are high in Brussels ahead of Italy’s upcoming general election, where the far-right Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) is likely to become the strongest party and join the right-wing populist Lega and the conservative Forza Italia in a ruling majority. Now the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has made it clear: “If things develop in a difficult direction, we have instruments as in the case of Poland and Hungary.”
Referring to the measures Europe must take to protect the rule of law, the European Commission president referred to Poland and Hungary, where there were problems with the independence of the judiciary and corruption. “My approach is that we work with any democratic government that is willing to work with us,” said von der Leyen. “Democracy needs everyone, it’s constant work, it’s never safe,” she said Thursday evening at Princeton University in the US state of New Jersey, according to Italian media.
Salvini: ‘We don’t accept warnings’
Von der Leyen’s words provoked a heated reaction from the right-wing populist League. “Italy is a free, sovereign country with a strong democratic tradition. Italian citizens deserve respect. Ursula von der Leyen’s words are shameful, we do not accept warnings, lectures or veiled threats. We will submit a request to clarify this matter,” said Lega boss Matteo Salvini.
While the right-wing party alliance showed unity at a joint election campaign event on Thursday, the center-left parties were divided by the end of the election campaign, as they had been during the election campaign. Social Democratic leader Enrico Letta, whose party has ruled jointly with the Five Star Movement since 2019, ruled out an alliance with the Five Star Movement after the elections. “The Cinque stelle have decided to go it alone. They toppled the Draghi government in July. Our paths separated irrevocably at that moment,” Letta explains.
Socialists: ‘Italy should not enter into dialogue with Orban’
Letta reiterated his fears about the country’s future international position. Italy has to make its decisions with the “great European countries”. “Italy must remain at the heart of Europe and not engage in dialogue with (Hungarian Prime Minister) Orban, Putin’s main ally.”