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Italy's centre-left seals pact for September election

By AFP - Aug 02,2022 - Last updated at Aug 02,2022

ROME — Italy's centre-left Democratic Party teamed up with a smaller centrist group on Tuesday to fight September's election, in a bid to stop the hard right winning power in the eurozone's third-largest economy.

With polls currently favouring the post-fascist Brothers of Italy Party and its right-wing allies, the new group still has a lot of ground to make up and says it may yet widen to include other small, leftist parties.

"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.

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

The left has been under pressure to produce a winning ticket since the collapse last month of prime minister Mario Draghi's national unity 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 topping polls at around 24 per cent.

Its allies — Forza Italia, led by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, and Matteo Salvini's anti-immigration League — are polling at around 7 and 12 per cent respectively.

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

The ballot on September 25 comes as debt-laden Italy struggles with rampant inflation and worries about energy supplies due to the Ukraine war.

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.

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 other left or centre-left parties.

The Five Star was the largest party in parliament before the latest political crisis but is now polling at 10 per cent. It is expected to run alone and hopes to win the protest vote.

 

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