PARIS (Reuters) – Populists and the far-right in Italy and France are mounting a multi-pronged assault on President Emmanuel Macron, hoping to unsettle his centrist, pro-Europe agenda ahead of European Parliament elections in May, while also shoring up their own bases.
Italy’s two deputy prime ministers, Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League and Luigi Di Maio of the populist, anti-establishment 5-Star movement, have sought to rile Macron on a host of inflammatory issues.
Salvini - Di - Maio - Macron - Europhile
Salvini and Di Maio appear to believe that in attacking Macron, a strong Europhile, their core voters in Italy will be motivated. Macron has been upfront in framing the European election as a battle between anti-immigrant nationalists and pro-EU ‘progressives’ like himself.
In the ballot, he hopes to carry the center and, along with allies, potentially build the largest bloc in the European parliament. The far-right and populists believe they may win a third or more of the vote, shattering traditional power bases.
Support - France - Vests - Movement - Suggestions
With vocal support for France’s often violent “Yellow Vests” movement and suggestions that Macron’s administration is driving neo-colonialism in Africa, the Italian duo have ignored the convention of not interfering in another country’s politics.
The rise in tension shows how divisive the May 23-26 election is set to be, and hints at shifts in Europe’s political landscape that resemble populism in the United States, with fringe parties looking to overturn centrists like Macron.
Macron - Ministers - Ground - Politicians - Charges
Macron and his ministers have mostly claimed the high ground, ignoring many of the Italian politicians’ charges, while issuing flat responses to others.
But on Tuesday, angered by Di Maio’s accusations that Paris is worsening poverty in Africa and encouraging migration to Europe, the French foreign ministry took the unusual step of calling in Italy’s ambassador.
Wednesday - Ministry - Salvini - Claims - Macron
On Wednesday the foreign ministry went further, dismissing Salvini’s claims that Macron is unpopular and his hope that Macron’s En Marche party will...
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