ROME - Italians cast ballots Sunday for European Parliament in what is seen as a test for Italy's two parties and the leaders of the country's ruling coalition government. The vote's outcome is expected to have an impact on domestic politics and on Italy’s future role in the European Union.
The European Parliament election will be a test for Italy's ruling coalition government, and in recent weeks the two campaigning deputy prime ministers, Matteo Salvini, leader of the League Party and Luigi Di Maio, leader of the 5-Star Movement, have been voicing differing positions to woo voters to their respective camps.
Italy's deputy transport minister has been placed under investigation in a corruption probe, becoming the latest political pawn in Italy's uneasy ruling coalition between the right-wing, anti-migrant League party and the populist 5-Star Movement.
League member Armando Siri "categorically denied" wrongdoing and asked Thursday to immediately respond to prosecutors' questions.
That didn't stop his boss, 5-Star member Danilo Toninelli, from revoking Siri's authority pending further clarity in the investigation.
Political tension between the two leaders has increased and the outcome of Italy's vote is expected to affect the dynamics within the government. Today’s Italian government is much different from 2014, when the last election for the European Parliament was held. At that time, the Italian government was led by Matteo Renzi, head of the Left Democrats party, a strong believer in Europe.
The scenario completely changed in Italy after the current government was formed following the March 2018 general elections with both deputy prime ministers calling for serious changes in EU policies and more independence for choices made by individual countries. League leader Salvini has said, “we are working for a new European dream.”
Salvini recently said, “Today for many citizens, for many people, the European Union represents a nightmare, not a dream. We are working to return employment, family, security, environment, the future of youth to the centerfold.”
Salvini added that his objective is to win and change the rules of Europe.
Observers will be watching carefully to see what changes will emerge from the vote, with the main question being how will it affect the balance of power between the two ruling parties in the coalition. The election's outcome likely will determine whether or not stability in the current political landscape can be maintained.
While criticism of the EU has been voiced by the League, and the 5-Star Movement, Italy — one of the founding nations of the bloc — still supports membership and the single currency — a possible exit by Italy is not anticipated, despite strong calls for national sovereignty to come first.