Political violence ais increasing in Italy in the final weeks before the country votes in national elections, with skirmishes between fascists and leftwing activists, and racially motivated attacks on migrants reported. The incidents, including an attack on one of the leaders of the far-right group Forza Nuova in Palermo on Wednesday morning, are reminiscent of a far more violent era in Italy – the so-called Years of Lead that began in the late 1960s when the country suffered a wave of domestic terrorism by forces on the extreme left and right.
Articles about voting issues in the Italian Republic.
Italian government officials are warning of possible foreign interference in the March 4 general election, sounding the alarm following the U.S. indictment of Russian trolls and evidence of Russian-sourced fake news on popular Italian platforms. Premier Paolo Gentiloni on Tuesday released Italy’s annual security report, which aside from highlighting the threat of Islamic extremism, warned about online “influence campaigns” that aim to “condition both the sentiment and political orientation of public opinion, especially at election time.” The report didn’t mention Russia by name. But for months, U.S. and Italian analysts have warned that European elections are prime targets for Russian meddling, with the Italian contest particularly ripe because two key opposition parties — the nationalist League and the anti-establishment, populist 5-Star Movement — have cultivated ties with Moscow.
The 37-page indictment issued by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team last Friday may have revealed the details of Russia’s efforts to interfere in U.S. elections. But to some, what appeared even more striking were the details about just how vulnerable the United States had become to such — sometimes barely disguised — attempts to sway public opinion. On page 24 of the indictment, one of the defendants, Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina, is quoted with a worrisome assertion, made in September 2017: “I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people.” … While some in the U.S. government still appear unwilling to fully confront the problem, other countries are now leading the way in developing possible solutions. With elections coming up in March, Italy has emerged on the forefront of European efforts to stop interference.
Shortly after midnight on Jan. 24, the home-made device David Puente built to catch fake Twitter accounts in the act started rumbling. In just over a minute, more than 150 users sent out the same tweet extolling Italian anti-euro populist Matteo Salvini, a contender in next month’s presidential election. It was obvious to Puente, a computer programmer, that they were bots, or automated accounts that masquerade as real people and are used increasingly as a tool to sway political opinion. “Monitoring the accounts of all the candidates is a civic duty for me,” said Puente, 35, who often stays up until 3 a.m. tracking social-media activity from his home in northern Italy while his family sleeps.
“This is a non-election,” a professor of philosophy tells me in a bar in Milan. “I will not vote.” “Meaning?” “Whoever wins, they will not govern. All will go on just the same. Most key policies will be decided outside Italy.” The Italians go to the polls on March 4, and from outside, it might look as though there are major, exciting, and, above all, dangerous developments in the offing: the return of the octogenarian Silvio Berlusconi, the rapid rise of anti-establishment Five Star Movement, the ever more aggressive rhetoric of the xenophobic Northern League. Yet the perception among most Italians is that the political system is simply too dysfunctional and blocked for much to happen at all.
Italy will vote on March 4 in an election expected to produce a hung parliament, instability and possible market turbulence in the eurozone’s third largest economy. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni’s cabinet set the date of the vote after the president dissolved parliament on 28 December, formally opening an election campaign which in practice has already been raging bitterly for weeks. With opinion polls suggesting no one will win a parliamentary majority, Gentiloni said he would remain in office and ensure continuity until a new administration was in place. As things stand, a centre-right alliance around Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy) looks set to take the largest number of seats – potentially catapulting the 81-year-old four-times premier back to centre stage, even though he cannot become prime minister due to a tax fraud conviction.
The countdown to Europe’s next pivotal election began on Thursday, when Italy’s president dissolved the Parliament and effectively opened the campaign for the first national elections in five years, scheduled for March 4. The move by President Sergio Mattarella now places Italy’s always tumultuous politics in the spotlight after a year in which populist forces, while beaten back in elections in several other countries, continued to reshape the political landscape across Europe. The general election will be Italy’s first since 2013, when the government led by the center-left Democratic Party succeeded the caretaker administration of Mario Monti, a technocratic who stepped in after Silvio Berlusconi, then prime minister, resigned in the midst of Italy’s debt crisis.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella signaled he would soon pave the way for national elections early next year, telling political leaders that the parliamentary term was drawing to an end. “Our voice will be the stronger if we create the image of a country which is united, stable, determined, capable of respecting commitments,” the head of state said at a year-end ceremony with government ministers, party leaders and senior officials at the presidential palace in Rome. He referred to “the electoral process which is about to begin.” Mattarella is likely to sign a decree to dissolve parliament between Dec. 27 and Dec. 29, according to a state official who could not be named discussing confidential matters. A general election would take place most likely on March 4 or March 11, the official added, with the date to be decided by the government of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement is calling on international observers to help prevent “fake news” in the run-up to the country’s 2018 general election. Party leader Luigi Di Maio made the plea yesterday following allegations by the ruling Democratic Party (PD) that 5-Star supporters were using interlinked internet accounts to spread misinformation and smear the center-left government, says Reuters. Di Maio, whose party is leading the polls, wrote in a Facebook message: “The problem of fake news exists and we think it is necessary to have the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] monitor news and political debate during the election campaign.”
Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement wants international observers to monitor next year’s national election campaign to help ward off “fake news”, party leader Luigi Di Maio said on Sunday. His comments came after the ruling Democratic Party (PD) accused 5-Star supporters of using interlinked internet accounts to spread misinformation and smear the center-left government. Di Maio, who was elected 5-Star leader in September, said his party was often misrepresented by the traditional media and said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should oversee the forthcoming election.