04:05 GMT +325 April 2018
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    Migrants wait at the border between Italy and France in the city of Vintimiglia on June, 12, 2015

    'Drug Dealers, Rapists, Burglars': Italian Politician Fuels Anti-Migrant Angst

    © AFP 2018 / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET
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    With Italians preparing to vote this coming February 4, Northern League leader Matteo Salvini is focusing his political campaigning on immigration – a serious irritant which has fueled his political rise.

    When addressing a crowd of supporters at a pre-election rally earlier this week, Salvini, a former Communist-turned-rightwing hardliner and Eurosceptic, dished out his vision of how to rid Italy of illegal immigrants.

    “We have imported a few good people, but there has also been a tide of delinquents and I want to send them home, from the first to the last. We are packed with drug dealers, rapists, burglars — and the League is the solution,” Salvini said after a politically indecorous quip about Muslims refusing to eat pork.

    The Northern League is riding the wave of popular discontent about the more than 630,000 migrants from North Africa and the Middle East who have arrived in Italy over the past few years, and a stagnant economy.

    A similar trend was observed in last year’s elections in France, the Netherlands and Germany where, attentive to the public sentiment, mainstream political parties have had to toughen their stance on immigration.

    Salvini’s center-right coalition partner, ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is demanding the deportation of all illegal migrants with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement slamming humanitarian groups salvaging incoming migrants from the sea.

    The latest poll conducted in the run-up to Sunday’s election, the Northern League boasted the support of a hefty 14 percent of voters, as compared to just 4 percent in 2013.

    If the center-right coalition led by ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi does well in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, Matteo Salvini hopes his Eurosceptic Northern League party could get a share of seats in the new government.

    He himself could fill the seats of either interior minister or even prime minister.

    The 2018 Italian general elections are scheduled for March 4,  with the anti-establishment Democratic Party, the center-right Forza Italia and the Five Star Movement (M5S) contending to form the country’s next government.

    READ MORE: Anti-Immigration Sentiments Spread Across Italy Ahead of Elections

    The 2018 Italian general election will be held on March 4 after President Sergio Mattarella dissolved parliament on December 28, 2017.

    Voters will elect the 630 members of the lower Chamber of Deputies and the 315 members of the Senate.

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    Tags:
    popular discontent, rightwing politician, elections, migrants, Northern League, Forza Italia party, Matteo Salvini, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy
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