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The leader of the Lega, Matteo Salvini, at a rally on the eve of the election. The rabid anti-migrant party is a member of the right-wing alliance, which may form the government / Photo: Screenshot/Aljazeera

Anti-immigration populism on the rise in Italy after elections

The Italian populist parties, Five Star Movement and the Northern League, achieved an historic result in the March 4 parliamentary elections. While it is still unclear what sort of coalition government will be formed, both groups want to bring in measures that would further restrict migration.

The one thing that was certain about the March 4 elections is that the population opted to vote for anti-establishment, Eurosceptic and populist parties. The Five Star Movement (M5S) triumphed with 32 percent of the vote, making it the top party in Italy.

Another historic result was seen for the right-wing, anti-migrant and nationalistic Northern League, which managed to get almost 18% of votes, becoming the top party in the centre-right coalition, which got 37% overall.

Both M5S and the centre-right plan to bring in stricter regulations concerning migration. The League, in particular, is a vocal promoter of anti-immigration measures and has often been in the spotlight for xenophobic statements.

Centre-right proposals on immigration

In the centre-right political program, in which the League is now the top party, there is a proposal to “retake control of the borders” and “a halt to landings with assisted pushbacks and the drawing up of agreements with countries of origin of economic migrants.” The group wants a “Marshall Plan for Africa” and the “deportation of all clandestine” migrants.

The centre-right coalition is calling also for “the abolition of the exclusively Italian anomaly of granting indiscriminately so-called ‘humanitarian protection,’ keeping only refugee status and possibly subsidiary protection.” The group’s program advocates drawing up “bilateral accords for detention in countries of origin.”

M5S’s program

The M5S program presented to the interior ministry has a very short section on immigration in which it underscores the need for “a halt to the business of immigration,” the implementation of “immediate repatriation for irregular” migrants and “10,000 job places in territorial commissions to assess within a month, whether a migrant has the right to stay in Italy or not, as is found in other European Countries.”

In the broader program on the political party’s website, M5S calls for the “automatic or obligatory relocation of asylum seekers who arrive in Italy and a revision of the Dublin III Regulations,” as well as the promotion of “legal and safe access to Europe” and “an assessment of the admissibility of international protection requests in the embassies and consulates in countries or origin or transit.”

The program provides for the “transparent funding of many small programs supporting development” in the migrants’ countries of origin, “the drawing up of bilateral accords with third countries in order to make repatriation procedures clear and rapid, in safe and decent conditions and with respect for fundamental rights,” as well as guarantees for vulnerable migrants. (In the combo picture, the leaders of the 5-Star Movement, Luigi di Maio (l), and of the Lega, Matteo Salvini.


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