An Italian senator has launched a political party that aims to take Italy out of the European Union, just after Rome clinched a huge coronavirus recovery fund deal with the bloc.
Gianluigi Paragone, a former TV journalist, presented his “Italexit” party on Thursday, two days after a London meeting with Brexit Party head Nigel Farage, who was instrumental in the United Kingdom’s decision to quit the EU.
Paragone pointed to a survey by pollster Piepoli Institute from the end of June, which found that about 7 percent of Italians would likely vote for a party campaigning to leave the EU.
“Consensus will only grow further, in line with the lies Europe tells us,” he said.
Political analyst and poll expert Renato Mannheimer said Italians’ feelings on the EU had “swung widely over the past few months … though we remain the country that trusts Brussels the least”.
A perceived initial failure on the bloc’s part to respond quickly to the coronavirus pandemic in Italy angered and disappointed the population but, since then, support for the EU has risen again, he said.
The stimulus package
A 750-billion-euro ($860bn) recovery package agreed by EU leaders, with a large slice earmarked for Italy, will likely boost that support further.
“Most Italians don’t want to leave the EU. Only about 30 percent – rising to 40 percent in some moments – say yes to leaving,” Mannheimer told the AFP news agency.
That figure rises slightly for Italians in favour of quitting the eurozone.
“I don’t believe Paragone’s party can build a large enough following for Italexit,” he said.
Paragone, who has previous ties to far-right leader Matteo Salvini’s League party, was elected with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, but left soon after it formed a government with the pro-European Democratic Party (PD) last year.
Both the Five Star Movement and the League have toned down their anti-eurozone stance to appeal to more moderate voters.