Italy Election Gives Big Lift to Far Right and Populists

Italy Election Gives Big Lift to Far Right and Populists, by Jason Horowitz in the NYT.

Italians registered their dismay with the European political establishment on Sunday, handing a majority of votes in a national election to hard-right and populist forces that ran a campaign fueled by anti-immigrant anger.

The election, the first in five years, was widely seen as a bellwether of the strength of populists on the continent and how far they might advance into the mainstream. The answer was far, very far. …

In Sunday’s vote, early results showed, the parties that did well all shared varying degrees of Euroskepticism, with laments about Brussels treating Italians like slaves, agitation to abandon the euro and promises to put Italy before Europe.

The most likely result will be a government in Italy — a founding European Union nation and the major economy of the Mediterranean — that is significantly less invested in the project of a united Europe. …

Far-right and populist forces appeared to gain more than 50 percent of the vote in Italy, where the economy has lagged, migration has surged and many are seething at those in power. …

Any government will be difficult to form without the insurgent Five Star Movement, a web-based, populist party less than a decade old. The party was poised to become the country’s biggest vote-getter, winning about a third of the votes cast — its best showing ever. …

The projections also showed big gains for the far-right League, a formerly northern-based secessionist party run by Matteo Salvini. He has been unapologetic about his use of inflammatory language about migrants, calling for their expulsion. Mr. Salvini’s party gained about 17 percent of votes, according to early projections. …

The Democratic Party suffered its poorest showing ever in national elections, continuing a Europe-wide collapse of the left. …

Nadia Urbinati, a political theorist at Columbia University and the author of the forthcoming book, “The Age of Populism,” said the country had been “split in two” between traditional establishment voters on the right and left, and everyone else.