POLLS: Populist Support Surges in Italy, Nationalist Lega Closes Gap on Five-Star
Italy’s populist parties would win an outright majority in parliament if new elections were held, according to the latest polls.
The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and nationalist Lega parties’ first attempt to form a coalition fell apart last week when President Sergio Mattarella vetoed their choice of finance minister, Paolo Savona, because of his eurosceptic views — but a populist government appears to be back on the cards now, with the two parties ready to put fresh proposals to the unelected president following polls showing fresh elections could make them even stronger.
Lega, which obtained 17.4 per cent three months ago, has rapidly caught up to M5S, having gained eight percentage points in an IPSOS poll published this week and risen to 25.4 per cent.
The survey, conducted for the Corriere Della Seranewspaper, also showed support for the M5S holding firm at around 32.6 per cent.
A separate poll, published on Monday, showed Lega surging by 10 points to 27.5 per, with M5S slipping only slightly, down three points to 29.5 per cent.
In either case, the two parties would easily command a majority in parliament if they agreed to join forces again.
The Mike Shedlock global economics blog has been tracking the polls throughout May, and claims that an “anti-Establishment landslide in Italy looks increasingly likely”.
— Mike Mish Shedlock (@MishGEA) May 31, 2018
Lega leader Matteo Salvini was been sounding understandably emboldened before today’s deal was announced, appearing to look forward to a second vote.
“The earlier we vote the better because it’s the best way to get out of this quagmire and confusion,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
The movement in the polls appeared to contradict claims by Germany’s EU Commissioner Gunther Oettinger earlier this week, that the markets would “teach the Italians to vote for the right thing” and reject populism.
The remark was widely seen as a threat, and the M5S called on European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to “defend democracy” and “respect” Italian voters.
Mr. Juncker later distanced himself from the comments and Mr. Oettinger was forced to apologise.
M5S leader Luigi Di Maio has also slammed the Italian establishment for acting in an anti-democratic way, commenting on President Mattarella’s use of his veto:
“We were a few steps away from forming a government and we were stopped because in our cabinet there was a minister who criticised the EU. This is not a free democracy.”
The polls’ accuracy could be tested soon is President Matterlla risks rejecting the populists’ latest coalition proposal, forcing fresh elections.