The resounding success claimed by the League party in Italy, the National Rally party in France and the Brexit Party in the UK in the just-held elections to the European Parliament are a sign of changes in Europe and mark the beginning of a “new European Renaissance”, said Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister, interior minister and leader of the League Party at Lega's headquarters in Milan.
“A new Europe is born. I am proud that the League is participating in this new European renaissance,” Salvini said after exit polls predicted his party had won 27-31 percent of votes.
Una sola parola: GRAZIE Italia! 🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/PEmaNvCpNJ— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) May 26, 2019
“Significantly, as 'League' become the dominant party in Italy, Marine Le Pen swept into a leading position in France, and Nigel Farage in the UK,” said Salvini.
“This is a sign that Europe is changing, Europe is tired of being a slave to the elites, corporations and the powers-that-be,” he told reporters in Milan.
The League’s coalition partner, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) was beaten by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) which placed second with 21-25 percent, exit polls showed after voting ended at 2100 GMT.
The League, a party that campaigned on a platform that slammed the current policies of the European Union and repeatedly criticised its leadership, swept ahead of its government coalition ally and rival in the current elections, the 5-Star Movement.
Salvini assured that the EU parliament election results would not set off a “settling of accounts” within the country's internal political arena: “nothing changes at the national level”.
Salvini stated that the left-wing forces that had poorly governed both Italy and Europe remained his opponents, while his allies in the government were his friends, with whom he would resume joint work.
"Today’s vote tells us that European rules are changing,” Salvini said prior to the vote.
Polling stations in Italy closed last in Europe, at 23.00 (0.00 Moscow time).
Back in March 2018 Matteo Salvini’s League came in third in the nation's general election, with just 17 percent of the vote, while M5S attracted over 32 percent. Five years ago, Lega barely overcame the 6 percent barrier.
There were marked gains for eurosceptic and right-wing forces across Europe in the EU parliamentary elections, as the two centrist parties that had dominated the EU for the past 40 years retained a majority but lost seats in the bloc's legislature.
In Germany, exit polls indicated that the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and its centre-left coalition partner also suffered losses.
The EU parliament is projecting that a larger share of Britain's seats will go to the Brexit Party as Nigel Farage's newly founded party was forecast to win 31% of the vote.
The Greens also enjoyed success across Europe, with the group jumping from 50 MEPs in 2014 to around 70.
The makeup of the parliament will be used by the 28 heads of state and government to guide their choice in replacing Juncker and his counterpart in the European council, Donald Tusk.
Turnout at the elections among the 426 million eligible voters was the highest in two decades.