Immigration and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s private life are dominating the European elections in Italy.
Here, as in many member states, the vote is being seen as a test of the government’s performance. Italy remains deeply divided over Berlusconi, who is loathed by the left but retains firm support on the right, despite several scandals. A major factor is his strong stance on immigration, which has equally split the nation. There was more evidence of that recently, late in the campaign. In an address Berlusconi said: “When I walk down the streets of Milan and I see the large numbers of non-Italians, I feel like am no longer an Italian or in a European city but in an African one.” His private life has come under renewed scrutiny with the publication in a Spanish newspaper of topless women at his seaside villa. He condemned it as an invasion of privacy and his lawyer said he would take legal action against El Pais and an Italian paper for reprinting them. Berlusconi has long maintained he is the victim of a campaign by a left-leaning media and judiciary at home.