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Berlusconi; Salvini
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Conservative forces in Italy see their fortunes rise

Center-right parties Forza Italia and Lega Nord have tasted success in mayoral elections in Italy. A coalition of conservative parties after national elections next spring is becoming more likely, Maurizio Gasparri, Vice-President of the Italian Senate, told Sputnik Italia.

Published: July 2, 2017, 10:35 am

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    The leader of Italy’s Lega Nord, Matteo Salvini saw his voter share rise considerably as part of a conservative coalition. Re-branded to work with with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, both parties did very well. In Verona, formerly leftist, Lega Nord won 7 of the 26 seats, defeating the governing leftists.

    The full list of local election results can be seen here. The current parliament’s mandate expires in early 2018 and current negotiations in parliament suggest the next general election will be held as early as in the autumn of 2017.

    On June 25, Italian voters went to the polls for the second round of mayoral elections, in which conservative forces Lega Nord, Fratelli d’Italia and Forza Italia won major victories. In Genoa, which had been a leftist stronghold for 50 years, the conservative alliance of Lega Nord and Forza Italia won 55 percent of the vote.

    Lega Nord leader Salvini said the results were encouraging, ahead of national elections in May 2018, as conservative candidates also unexpectedly won majorities in cities such as Aquila, Verona, Como and Monza.

    “I can’t wait to export the model from these local elections to the national level,’ an elated Salvini told a press conference. “If, after decades, they ask us to govern in Genoa, Pistoia or Sesto San Giovanni, it means that we can govern the country too.”

    Salvini however rebuffed Berlusconi’s call for the recreation of a “moderate” FI-led national centre-right coalition to contest Italy’s next general election, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

    Speaking after a strong showing in Sunday’s mayoral run-offs, Salvini said “if we’ve managed to free all these cities it means there is an enormous space of credibility to be occupied without following old alchemies from 23 years ago. Each with his identity and history. Clear agreements and long friendship, like in Genoa,” said Salvini.

    Maurizio Gasparri, Vice-President of the Italian Senate, told Sputnik Italia that such coalitions ahead of next year’s national elections could mean an overall conservative victory.

    “The center-right did very well in this election because they presented a united front. That’s why in many cities there is strong opposition to the ruling left-wing parties. Voters want change they support the opposition. Victory was achieved thanks to strong candidates from the Forza Italia party, which united all the center-right to achieve success,” Gasparri said.

    The leftist, globalist Democratic Party, which has governed Italy for the past four years, is being punished by voters for poor political decisions, he said. “I consider the people who have extended anti-Russian sanctions to be idiots. It is pure idiocy, they are acting against their own interests,” he said.

    “[Prime Minister, Paolo] Gentiloni is behaving irresponsibly: first he says that sanctions will be abolished, and then he supports their extension. Gentiloni is acting against the interests of Italy and Italian producers. Italy’s relations with other countries are deteriorating under his leadership, especially with Russia, which is well known to be making a huge contribution to the fight against Islamic fundamentalism around the world,” Gasparri added.

    “Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi recently visited Crimea and met with Putin there. Forza Italia’s position on Crimea is the following: a referendum was held in Crimea and the people expressed their decision. Crimea has always been a Russian zone of influence and it didn’t become a part of it just recently. Our position on the Crimean issue is reflected by the very fact of Putin and Berlusconi’s friendly meeting in Crimea.” Gasparri said that the policies of the Forza Italia leader Berlusconi, a former Italian Prime Minister, are popular with voters.

    “Our party wants to have friendly relations with Vladimir Putin and Russia, we want to pursue a policy of gratitude for everything that Russia has done to fight terrorism, the operations against the Islamic State. Berlusconi has always said that Putin is one of his best friends, they have worked together for a long time and kept in touch when Berlusconi was in power, and since then. Berlusconi is still a popular politician, he talks about what Italy really needs politically and socially,” Gasparri noted.

    “Putin’s Russia defends the world against terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. In my opinion, people who promote anti-Russian sanctions are idiots. The position of the Forza Italia party and Berlusconi is that in foreign policy we should express gratitude to Russia and Putin for his courage and resolute actions. Forza Italia condemns those who interfere in the development of dialogue between Italy and Russia and we do not agree with the sanctions, which are absolutely the wrong decision.”

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