Italian Election Campaign Enters Home Straight

Italian Election Campaign Enters Home StraightItalian Election Campaign Enters Home Straight

Italy’s rival political parties wrapped up a bitter campaign on Friday ahead of an election on Sunday in which former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi could once again play a leading role.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement, the anti-immigration League party and the ruling center-left Democratic Party are holding their final rallies before a day of silence on Saturday, AFP reported.

The campaign has been dominated by concerns about immigration and the far-right is expected to make major gains, while the populist rhetoric of the Five Star Movement is also likely to score well.

But the final polls in the election indicate that Berlusconi’s four-party rightwing alliance will win the most votes after his promises to expel 600,000 “irregular” migrants and slash taxes.

A three-time prime minister of Italy whose career has been shadowed by sex scandals and court cases, the 81-year-old Berlusconi cannot himself hold elected office because of a fraud conviction.

But on Thursday he unveiled European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, a close ally since the tycoon first entered politics in the early 1990s, as his choice for prime minister if he wins.

“I thank Berlusconi for his gesture of respect in my regard. I have indicated to him this evening my readiness to serve Italy,” Tajani tweeted.

Berlusconi’s coalition on Thursday held its first and last joint campaign event in a bid to dispel rumors of severe divisions between Berlusconi and eurosceptic League leader Matteo Salvini.

Salvini has prime ministerial ambitions of his own and has indicated that he should receive the nomination if his party wins more votes than Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy).

The Five Star Movement also on Thursday broke with tradition to unveil its list of ministerial nominees ahead of the vote, many of them academics with no previous experience in politics.


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