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Italy’s Meloni tops polls as EU elections enter third day

In World
June 08, 2024

Italy’s firebrand Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is polling well ahead of her rivals as Italians, Estonians, Latvians, Maltese, Czechs and Slovakians go to vote in the European Parliament elections on Saturday.

Meloni could be poised to act as kingmaker for the next European Commission president if her Brothers of Italy (FdI) makes major gains.

Incumbent Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has been openly courting Meloni in the hope of winning the confirmatory votes of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, a pan-European soft-eurosceptic bloc that Meloni now leads and whose ranks FdI candidates aim to join if elected to the European Parliament.

As the EU’s third-most populous country, Italy can send a total of 76 delegates to the 720-seat European Parliament, putting anyone who wins big there in a powerful position at EU level.

According to a “poll of polls” compiled by the news website Politico, the conservative FdI is in first place with 27%, six points ahead of the centre-left Democratic Party.

Saturday marks the third day of four in the EU-wide elections, in which different countries vote on different days. It’s polling day for Latvia, Malta and Slovakia; the second and final day of polling for the Czech Republic, and the first of two for Italy and Estonia.

Slovakia’s left-wing nationalist Prime Minister Robert Fico has come out fighting on Wednesday after surviving an assassination attempt on May 15 that shocked Europe. Fico was shot multiple times in an attack that appears to have been politically motivated.

The recovering prime minister published a video on Wednesday in which said “an activist of the Slovak opposition” had carried out the attempt on his life,” adding there was no reason to believe the attack was the act of a “lone lunatic.”

Fico’s party SMER is leading in the polls at 23%, two points ahead of the liberal Progressive Slovakia party.

The first preliminary results indicating the composition of the next European Parliament will only come late on Sunday night, after every member of the 27-nation bloc has voted. These will be updated during the early hours of Monday.

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