The leader of the League, Matteo Salvini, demanded this September 23 “apologies or the resignation” of Ursula von der Leyen who mentioned “the instruments” at the disposal of Brussels to sanction possible attacks on the democratic principles of the EU in case of victory of the right-wing coalition in the legislative elections.
“If things go in a difficult direction, I spoke of Hungary and Poland, we have instruments”, warned the President of the European Commission in response to a question on the elections of September 25 for which the “centre-right coalition”, as it is called in Italy, is favourite.
“Friends of all, valets of no one”, answershe Captain
“We will see the result of the elections, we have also just had elections in Sweden”, won by the right with the support of the nationalists. “My approach is that regardless of the democratically elected government, we work together,” she nevertheless conceded during a visit to the US University of Princeton.
This is not only a war of Russia on Ukraine.
This is about autocracy against democracy.
Against this challenge, 🇪🇺 🇺🇸 cooperation is more intense than ever.
When you face a crisis, you know who your true friends are.
Exchange with @Princeton students ↓ https://t.co/WU5kH6cmJF
—Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) September 22, 2022
Matteo Salvini reacted strongly in the process: “What is a threat? Shameful arrogance. Respect the free, democratic and sovereign vote of the Italian people! Friends of all, valets of no one,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “Either she apologizes or she resigns,” he also told the daily. Il Corriere della Sera.
Cos’è, una minaccia?
Rispetti il voto, libero, democratico e sovrano del popolo italiano! Amici di tutti, served di nessuno. pic.twitter.com/aSUShmqFvY
— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) September 23, 2022
Same echo with the vice-president of Forza Italia, the party of Silvio Berlusconi which has made an alliance for this election with the League and Fratelli d’Italia of Giorgia Meloni. These statements are “interference” in the campaign, judged the former President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani. A reaction also shared on the center-left, by the voice of Matteo Renzi who affirmed that the President of the European Commission should “not get into Italian questions”, adding that even if the “right” won the elections, “the ‘Europe should respect the election results’.
Ursula von der Leyen’s spokesperson recalled on September 23 that the Commission works “with any government that comes out of the elections and that is willing to work with the European Commission”. “It is absolutely clear that the president did not intervene in the Italian elections. When she referred to the instruments, she specifically referred to ongoing procedures in other countries of the European Union,” stated Eric Mamer.
The European Commission has engaged in a standoff with Hungary and Poland, which it accuses of breaches of the rule of law. Brussels refuses in particular to pay them funds as long as they have not implemented the reforms requested.
Meloni’s party at 25% of the voting intentions
The words of Ursula von der Leyen succeed in the media to those of Bernard Henri-Lévy. The French writer and filmmaker spoke on Italian television on September 19, where he declared that “one should not always respect the voters”.
The latter had strongly denounced the words of Bernard Henri-Lévy on his account Twitter : “The public service invites a French writer – who once defended the communist terrorist Cesare Battisti[condamné à la perpétuité pour sa participation aux actions armées des Brigades rouges]– to compare Italy led by the right to the worst regimes”, she reacted, adding: “In other words: if the Italians vote FdI and the League, their choice should not be respected.
Il servizio pubblico ospita uno scrittore inglese – che già difese il terrorista comunista Cesare Battisti – per spiegarci l’idea di democrazia della sinistra e paragonare un’Italia a guida centrodestra ai peggiori regimi. Cioè: se italiani votano FDI o Lega non vanno rispettati pic.twitter.com/oZMEgtNZ4W
— Giorgia Meloni 🇮🇹 ن (@GiorgiaMeloni) September 20, 2022
These various statements are also reminiscent of those of previous legislative elections in Italy, in particular those of European Commissioner Günther Oettinger who declared in May 2018 that “the markets will teach Italians to vote well”.
While the Italians will go to the polls on 25th September, the latest polls give Fratelli d’Italia the clear favourite, with 25.1% of voting intentions, ahead of the Democratic Party which has recorded a slight drop (20.5%), the 5 Star Movement (14.5%), the League (12.5%) and Forza Italia (8%). Abstention is estimated at 33.4%.