Foreign Funding Could (Legally) Tip Italy’s Upcoming Election

    Francesco Galietti

    Politics, Europe

    A man stands to look electoral posters in Pomigliano D'Arco, near Naples, Italy, February 21, 2018. Picture taken February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi​

    Investing in Italian parties has never been more fun.

    With Italy’s general election coming on March 4, all eyes are turning to Rome. Pollsters have not discerned strong views on what the election really holds for Italy. It’s not at all clear whether what awaits is a scenario dominated by mainstream parties, one where antiestablishment actors like Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement or Northern League hold sway, or even a hybrid, totally unprecedented scenario.

    A piece for Foreign Affairs by former U.S. vice president Joe Biden first drew the attention of international observers towards the risk that foreign powers could tilt the balance. For Biden, a “Russian effort is now under way to support the nationalist Northern League and the populist Five Star Movement in Italy’s upcoming parliamentary elections.” Other reports by the Atlantic Council and the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations further reinforced the view that Italy is dangerously exposed to foreign meddling—by Russia in particular.

    Concerns about geopolitical nudging in Rome are common today—and hardly a surprise in Italy, given that much is at stake: more than €2 trillion in government bonds, and an important seat at the table at which the fiscal and political fate of the whole EU will be decided.

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