ITALY will go to the polls this weekend in a general election that will not only see the succession of a new government but will also potentially have major implications for the European Union. What does the election in Italy mean for the Brussels bloc and will Italy LEAVE the European Union?

Leaving the Euro could deal a painful blow to Brussels as it would require Italy to leave the European bloc in the same fashion as Brexit. But Italy is becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Euro as its economy shows no sign of improving – public debt currently stands at 133 per cent of its GDP.So could Italy leave the European Union after the Italian election 2018?

Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi criticised the EU in the early 2000s for how the euro was imposed to Italy by former PM Romano Prodi, despite being in power when the main policies concerning euro’s introduction were being drawn up. Today, he still believes the euro impoverished the country, but he recently stated that Italy can’t leave the currency as it would be too dangerous for the economy.Pro-euro declarations have so far created small friction with his eurosceptic ally Matteo Salvini. Salvini, the Lega leader, wants to reintroduce the old Italian currency Lira, to be used only within the country, while keeping the euro for tourism and market purposes.

Mr Berlusconi made clear he stands with the EU, and Forza Italia is part of a transnational organisation in Brussels called European People’s Party, which gathers over 70 national parties from 40 countries. Yet, he also calls for fewer ties and obligation toward Europe, to stop fiscal austerity which he believes is suffocating Italy’s growth and for his country to have more power within the bloc.The Europhile believes the EU is cheering for his party because it would be able to contain populist movements. In a recent interview with Non è L’Arena, he said: “Europe is very, very worried the populist party Five-Star Movement will win, and hopes Forza Italia will put an end to their growth”.Mr Salvini and Mr Berlusconi also disagree on Brexit and the possibility of an Italexit, which the liberal deemed as a “very serious, dangerous” decision.WHAT WOULD BERLUSCONI MEAN FOR BREXIT AND THE EU?

Italian election 2018: Berlusconi and Salvini

REUTERS

Italian election 2018: Silvio Berlusconi is positive to the EU – but wants reforms

Italian election 2018: Matteo SalviniAFP

Italian election 2018: Matteo Salvini has been dubbed the Italian Nigel Farage. After the EU referendum, he said: “The decision taken by the Britons points out that the European dream is failing. “Members of the bloc must act immediately to rebuild a stronger and better union”.

Matteo Salvini

The Lega Nord leader – dubbed the “Italian Farage” – said he will fight Brussels to make sure “Italians come first” should he become Italy’s next Prime Minister in the March 4 Italian general election.Matteo Salvini could become a danger to the EU, having previously threatened to withdraw Italy’s funds from the bloc and even trigger an “Italexit” if his demands for Italy aren’t met.

Focusing his electoral campaign on fighting illegal immigration and protecting Italy from the EU’s “unfair” financial laws, he has often criticised both Eurocrats’ calls for greater integration and the euro, which he blasted was “a German currency”.He also claims the regulations imposed by the European Union are damaging Italian industries and the Italian eco. Speaking on La7 Coffee Break, he said: “We need to put Italian interests before those of the European Union, or at least at the same level.“The laws imposed by Brussels damage Italian artisans, traders, pensioners, but hey, Europe is asking so we have to obey.”

Luigi Di Maio

Luigi Di Maio, the leader of populist and eurosceptic Five Star Movement (M5S), ruled out having a referendum in Italy on membership of the EU.”We need to renegotiate some EU rules, but not in an in/out referendum,” he said, adding he believed Brexit had “weakened” the bloc.The 5-Star Movement has repeatedly stated in the past that it would like to hold a referendum on euro zone membership, something Di Maio previously echoed.

WHAT WOULD LUIGI DI MAIO WIN MEAN FOR BREXIT AND THE EU?

Italian election 2018: Luigi Di Maio

Italian election 2018: Luigi Di Maio has softened the Five Star Movement’s EU stance

WHAT WOULD FIVE STAR VICTORY MEAN FOR ITALY?But now the 31-year-old says he “wouldn’t even contemplate that last resort.””Germany, France Spain are renegotiating some of the EU rules. This is the time to make some deficit, to make investments and relaunch the Italian economy. I don’t want to even consider that last resort,” he said.However he has indicated he wants to make changes to the Eu’s framework in a way to benefit Italy, saying: “Our stance on Europe, on the euro, is that we want to remain part of the EU and the eurozone. “We just want to change some economic rules. This should not scare businesses and investors (that) we want to get some results for Italy and re-launch the EU.”

Matteo Renzi

Italian election 2018: Matteo Renzi

The PD is currently the only large firmly pro-European Union party in the Italian parliament.

Communist party leader calls for Italy to leave the EU

We need to put Italian interests before those of the European Union, or at least at the same level.

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