Italy's election - a slap in the face for EU

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Italy's election - a slap in the face for EU

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First there was Brexit, now the EU's being slapped again by eurosceptics - this time in Italy.

The populist and eurosceptic parties winning support in Sunday's election, but not because of migration - this time, the economic situation.

Italians have made their voice heard over measures imposed by Brussels, such as limiting the budget deficit to three percent of GDP.

Paolo Magri

"This three percent has no scientific validation and it's not written anywhere that we can't alter it," Paolo Magri, from the 5 Star Movement, told Euronews in Brussels.

"We, on the contrary, want a more expansive investment policy after years of austerity that have damaged all the countries of Europe, especially those of the South. So we must renegotiate with Europe also because other countries are going over these thresholds. From this point of view we must not say that we cannot invest more."

Eurozone reforms

What's coming out of Italy's poll is expected to have a big influence on the debate over institutional reforms in the Eurozone.

Professor Mario Telo' from the University Libre de Bruxelles and Luiss University, commented: "It is crucial that in a short time the Franco-German couple is proposing a reform of the Eurozone, capable of reviving a growth policy and avoiding future crises. And according to the review of the European immigration policy, beyond the Dublin agreements."

For France and Germany, the heat is on to drive away the risk of populistic contagion across Europe.

Professor Mario Telo'

"We don't underestimate the fact that, for the Franco-German couple and for the more reasonable forces at the centre of Europe, this could be an opportunity not to be missed to avoid similar phenomena which will reproduce in a short time in France and Germany," said Telo'.

According to Brussels analysts, in the wake of what's happened in Italy, the crisis hitting traditional parties strikes at the heart of the political apparatus of Europe.

Jean Michel De Waele

"In Italy, but I would say in Europe unfortunately, today the only parties that propose changes are populist parties and right, extremist ones," said Jean Michel De Waele, a Professor of Political Science at the Free University of Brussels.

Centre-left crisis

It's clear angry Italian voters have rejected long-standing politics. What's happened is a symptom of a big crisis in the traditional European centre-left.

Nicolò Carboni

"We settled on a narrative of Europe and globalisation that worked in the 90s but that today is starting to show its limits and we've not been able to re-address these problems and issues," commented Nicolò Carboni, from the Democratic Party delegation at the European Parliament.

"Not even the Northern League and the 5 Star Movement did, but perhaps they offered easier answers."

Italy could be just the beginning, and not the end, of a fall of liberal democracy.

"Mr. Macron and Mr. Renzi somehow they are the same kind of person: young dynamic, who said 'we go out of the old system we will reform.' We can see that if Macron does not succeed, there's a risk of having problems, also in France," said Jean Michel De Waele.

A destabilisation

While the socio-economic frustration has hit the centre-left, the migration issues at an EU level have destabilised the traditional centre-right forces, giving the Northern League a lead.

“We have governments in some other European countries that are openly saying 'we now have to embark on policies for the purpose of violating well established international standards,' so Italy is not alone," commented one woman in Brussels.

"But it's a very big country that has now joined the club and that is very concerning.”

Another woman added: “I really hope it doesn’t get worse and our society can be a little bit open minded and accept migrants.”

Italy's election leaves it with radical options ahead. A country where an anti-establishment surge has crushed the chances of another moderate government taking the reigns of the eurozone's third largest economy.