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Italians head to polls in European Parliament elections

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People prepare to vote at a polling station in Rome, Italy, June 8, 2024. (Xinhua/Li Jing)

Global geopolitical issues, and especially the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, have been at least as important as domestic and European topics in the debate this time.

ROME, June 8 (Xinhua) — Polls in Italy have opened at 3 p.m. local time (1300 GMT) on Saturday, as Italians are taking part in the European Union (EU) election aimed at choosing the next parliament.

Over 51 million people here (including some 3 million new young voters) are eligible to cast their ballot to choose 76 Italian lawmakers out of total 720 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) making the European assembly. Italian voting stations will close at 11 p.m. local time on Sunday.

Overall, the process across the 27 EU member states is taking place over 4 days (June 6-9), involving an estimated 360 million voters.

After being elected, the MEPs will have to choose the next president of the European Commission, which is the block’s executive body. As such, the results of this vote will shape the EU’s political path for the next five years.

This photo shows ballots at a polling station in Rome, Italy, June 8, 2024.  (Xinhua/Li Jing)

RIGHTWING FAVORITE

The result of the Italian vote is seen as among the crucial ones, as Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing party Brothers of Italy (FdI) is projected to be the favorite in the country, and major opinion polls at EU level forecast a historic surge of rightwing forces across the continent.

The largest political families in the EU are the conservative European People’s Party (EPP), center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), liberal Renew Europe, and center-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, to which Meloni’s FdI belongs.

The ECR group is however expected to break from far-right parties that include France’s National Rally, and German Alternative for Germany among others, and back moderate conservative forces.

In this case, ECR’s lawmakers will be crucial in order to forge a stable majority in the next assembly in Brussels.

People prepare to vote at a polling station in Rome, Italy, June 8, 2024.  (Xinhua/Li Jing)

MAIN TOPICS IN DEBATE

In Italy, the other main parties running are center-right Forza Italia, center-left Democratic Party, far-right and euro-sceptic Lega, and the populist Five Star Movement.

Global geopolitical issues, and especially the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, have been at least as important as domestic and European topics in the debate this time.

Meloni confirmed Italy’s position in favor of supporting Ukraine, and the same was for the Democratic Party, which is projected as the likely second-largest Italian force in this vote.

Other key issues dominating the Italian campaign have been migration, the need for more investments in the national health system, and a proposal by the government to amend Italy’s constitution to allow citizens to directly choose the prime minister. 

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