Italy’s Salvini questioned over Russia ties ahead of election campaign

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Letta said “the choice is between us and Meloni”, framing the election as a contest between PD and other centre-left, pro-EU parties, and the Eurosceptic, hard-right alliance including Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy (FdI) party.

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“The election will give a clear result and it will go in one direction or another,” Letta told a PD meeting in parliament on Wednesday.

“There won’t be a draw.”

FdI is currently top of the opinion polls, with the support of around 23-25 percent of the electorate on Wednesday, news agency Ansa reported.

The PD was a close second, polling at around 22-23 percent.

The electoral success of either party depends on their ability to form a coalition of allies who would take a large enough share of the vote between them – and also be able to form a government.

FdI’s allies, Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, were polling at 12-13 percent and 7-8 percent respectively.

A right-wing coalition led by Forza Italia, Fratelli d’Italia and League is predicted to win Italy’s next election. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP.

The three parties, which have long-standing ties, are expected to easily gain the majority needed to form a government between them.

Meanwhile the centre-left’s position is far less clear, with PD currently refusing to ally with the Five Star Movement (M5S) after it triggered the crisis of government that led to premier Mario Draghi’s resignation, and the collapse of his broad coalition government.

Other centrist and left-wing groups that could potentially ally with the PD are polling at around five percent or below.

Election campaigning is not yet underway, but divisions were already showing on Wednesday as the leaders of the right-wing coalition met to discuss their battle plan ahead of the election of September 25th.

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The main topic of discussions between the trio is that of who would become prime minister in the event of their victory.

Meloni, whose party has a Christian nationalist, anti-immigration and eurosceptic programme, said this week that without agreeing a premier in advance, “the alliance to govern together is useless”

But Salvini’s League wants the party with the largest number of votes to make the choice, hoping that its own numbers will improve.

Salvini has indicated he will content himself for now with another interior minister position – though he has long had his eye on the top job.

Media reports meanwhile suggest Berlusconi is concerned that naming Meloni as premier now would alienate voters alarmed by her extreme views.

Forza Italia has suffered a wave of defections since it pulled out of Draghi’s government last week, with nine lawmakers including three ministers quitting.

Berlusconi has so far appeared reluctant to talk about whether he’d be interested in another stint as prime minister at the age of 85.