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Europeans: Italians at the polls, Meloni hopes to make his mark

The Italians began to attack. &agrav; vote on Saturday afternoon in the European elections, a vote of which Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni wants to make a test, of its popularity in his country as well as his influence on the continent.

More than 47 million citizens are called to the polls on the peninsula to elect 76 MEPs, the third largest contingent behind Germany and France.

< p>The vote will take place on Sunday in most member states. One of the first tasks of the new Parliament, which will have 720 deputies, will be to confirm – or invalidate – the choice of the 27 EU leaders for the presidency of the European Commission which could fall on the German Ursula von der Leyen, candidate for a second term.

Arriving in power at the end of 2022, Giorgia Meloni has, for these European elections, taken the head of the list of her extreme party right-wing Fratelli d'Italia (FDI), which is credited with 27% of voting intentions according to the latest polls. He could send 22 deputies to the European Parliament, compared to six currently, which would largely contribute to the expected surge of the far right in the chamber.

“The sovereignists attack the EU”, headlined the daily La Repubblica (center-left) on Saturday.

In a video message on Friday, the Romaine of 47 years, who says he is opposed to an “arrogant and invasive” Europe, recalled his priorities: “defend the borders against illegal immigration (….) fight against unfair competition which harms our businesses (…) support the family and birth rate”.

Europeans: Italians at the polls, Meloni hopes to make his mark

The voting method for the European elections © AFP – Valentin RAKOVSKY, Hervé BOUILLY, Julie PEREIRA

Courted by Mrs von der Leyen who sees her as a suitable partner, will she be in a position of strength at the time of the post-electoral negotiations for the EU's “top jobs”?

“When we look at her weight, Meloni will have influence for Italian interests, in the Commission, in Parliament. She will play her game”, underlines a European diplomat , on condition of anonymity. “But is she a kingmaker? No”, he tempers however.

– “Our interests, not those of Brussels” –

The Italian leader is also solicited by the leading figure of the French National Rally (RN) Marine Le Pen, who dreams of forming a large nationalist group in Parliament.

The forces Eurosceptics, radicals and the far right are currently divided into two groups in the hemicycle: the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID, including the RN).

Europeans: Italians at the polls, Meloni hopes to make his mark

Polling stations opened on Saturday in Slovakia to choose the country's 15 elected representatives to the European Parliament © AFP – Paul Faith

A few hours before Italy, Slovakia began voting after an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Robert Fico strengthened support for his pro-Putin-leaning camp.

In this country of 5.4 million inhabitants, a member of NATO and the EU since 2004, the attack fueled his party's campaign , the Smer-SD, which describes itself as a “peace party”, opposes arms deliveries to Ukraine and criticizes “the increasing attacks by warmongers from Brussels”.

“I voted for Smer, they have always defended our interests, those of Slovakia, rather than those of Brussels,” Jozef Zahorsky, a 44-year-old teacher from Modra, a town near the capital Bratislava, told AFP .

Conversely, a 20-year-old student, Kristina Morhacova, confides that she chose the liberal party PS for its “progressive principles” and to “avoid that Smer and company does not have all the powers”.

After the Dutch on Thursday, who confirmed a surge of the far right – however outstripped by the social-democrat and environmentalist coalition, according to estimates, then the Irish and the Czechs on Friday, the Latvians and the Maltese also take to the track on Saturday for this electoral marathon spanning four days in the 27 countries of the EU.

The President of the European Parliament, the Maltese Roberta Metsola, indicated on start” –

If most French people will go to the polls on Sunday, the first “votes” rang out in the offices of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, an archipelago located to the south of the Canadian island of Newfoundland, on Saturday.

Europeans: Italians at the polls, Meloni hopes to make his mark

Public meeting of Valérie Hayer, head of the Renaissance party list for the European elections, June 6, 2024 in Nice © AFP – Valery HACHE

President Emmanuel Macron hammered home his call for mobilization at the polls. “If tomorrow France sends a very large far-right delegation, if other major countries do so, Europe could find itself blocked,” he warned on Friday, calling for “a start”.

It remains to be seen whether his involvement and that of Prime Minister Gabriel Attal will mobilize more supporters than opponents. Because the polls promise an overwhelming victory for the far right, above 30% of the votes for the RN, which sees this election as a key step in its quest for the Elysée.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116