The tweet from Italy’s most rightwing xenophobe was enough to send a chill down any liberal democrat’s spine.
In the face of a resounding defeat of centre-left prime minister Matteo Renzi, Northern League leader Matteo Salvini wrote: “Viva Trump, viva Putin, viva la Le Pen e viva la Lega!” It was swiftly followed by a note of congratulations from Marine Le Pen, who said the Italian electorate had “disowned the EU and Renzi”.
It was clear from the high voter turnout – 68% of eligible voters cast ballots on Sunday – that Italians were indeed sending a message to the political establishment in Rome. But deciphering that message will not be easy, despite celebratory claims from Europe’s far right.
Italy is facing a number of big issues that were not technically on the ballot: a migration crisis in which the country feels abandoned by Europe; an unresolved banking crisis; steep unemployment and a debt load of 132% of GDP with no solution in sight.
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