Italian opinion polls revealed the rise of anti-EU parties on February 16, the last day to publish opinion polls before the March 4 Italian general elections.
On Wednesday, William Rhodes, President and CEO of William R. Rhodes Global Advisors, told Bloomberg Markets that “there is an anti-EU sentiment within the country and [that]immigration is a big issue.”
“The one country I think it’s fair to say in the Eurozone that is not doing better than it was before it entered the Eurozone is Italy. There is a possibility they could even call a referendum…. It’s always a possibility depending on which party wins,” said Rhodes.
Mr. Rhodes gave his expert opinion in response to the rising support for Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Northern League party, and his coalition with Silvio Berlusconi’s party, Forward Italy, and center-right party, Brothers of Italy.
Salvini’s Italy First platform has gained popularity amid growing xenophobia and Euroscepticism. “I am an extremist because I defend Italian citizens’ rights to work, eat, and drink in Italy and Italian products,” Salvini said in defense of his platform. “Italians first.”
While Luigi Di Maio’s Five Star Movement currently leads the polls, Politico reports that Di Maio’s party does not have enough support to win an outright majority. This means that they would need to follow Salvini’s strategy and form a coalition, an option that Five Star Movement currently refuses to consider.
The ruling Democratic Party is part of a left-wing coalition and it is predicted to come third after Salvini’s coalition and the Five Star Movement.
On Friday, Paolo Gentiloni, Italian Prime Minister and member of the Democratic Party, tried to reassure supporters of the European Union, saying he was certain that “Italy would have a stable government not dominated by populists and eurosceptics.”
Even though a hung parliament seems to be the most likely outcome, Antonio Noto, head of the IPR polling agency, urged people not to underestimate the power of undecided voters. “Around 10 million Italians haven’t decided yet if they will vote and for whom,” Noto said. “That means that the result may change in a substantial way in the last few days before the vote.”
According to Politico Europe, 30 to 45 percent of the electorate is undecided, making the upcoming elections even messier and more unpredictable.