Italy’s centre-left says election pact will stop right-wing landslide

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

The alliance was seen as boosting the centre-left’s chances of preventing a right-wing triumph in the upcoming early election, set for September 25th, according to news reports on Tuesday,

“It’s now all to play for,” Carlo Calenda told a press conference after his Azione party, which is allied with the small +Europa, sealed the electoral pact with the Democratic Party (PD), the largest party on the centre-left.

READ ALSO: Italy to choose ‘Europe or nationalism’ at election, says PD leader

“We are solid and compact. We will win this election,” he said.

But polls consistently show a hard-right alliance is currently on course for an easy victory, led by the the post-fascist Brothers of Italy, and that the new centre-left group has a lot of ground to make up.

Leaders of the centre-left alliance said it may yet widen to include other parties.

PD leader Enrico Letta told a press conference on Tuesday that the alliance made the election an open race.

“We believe it is unthinkable that our country, after the government of [Mario] Draghi, will be led by a rightist government,” Letta said.

Democratic Party (PD) leader Enrico Letta (L) walks past Brothers of Italy (FdI) party leader Giorgia Meloni in parliament. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / POOL / AFP

The left has been under pressure to produce a winning ticket since the collapse last month of Draghi’s grand coalition, which kicked off a general election campaign quickly dominated by the right.

Brothers of Italy, which has a Christian nationalist and eurosceptic programme, is currently polling at around 24 percent.

Its allies – Forza Italia, led by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, and Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration League – are polling at around seven and 12 percent respectively.

A Swg poll published on Monday, ahead of the new centre-left deal, saw the PD polling at around 23 percent, while Azione and +Europe had a combined score of around six percent.

The PD and Azione vowed to stick to Draghi’s foreign policy in support of Ukraine and to ensure Italy followed through with a series of key reforms necessary to access billions of euros in European Union funds.

“The election will be a choice between an Italy that is one of the great countries of Europe, and an Italy allied with (Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor) Orban and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” they said in a statement.

READ ALSO: Russia denies interfering in Italy’s elections

Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni has flirted politically with Orban while Berlusconi is a long-term friend of Putin’s and Salvini’s ties with Russia have repeatedly come under scrutiny.

The centre-left pact came a day after Luigi Di Maio, the former head of the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), unveiled a new centre-left party called Civil Commitment, which signalled it was open to joining forces with left or centre-left parties.

M5S was the largest party in parliament before the latest political crisis but is now polling at 10 percent. It is expected to run alone and hopes to win the protest vote.