ROME — The Latest on Italy’s national election on Sunday (all times local):
Italy’s populist 5-Stars have staged their final campaign rally in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo — the People’s Square.
Making only his second campaign appearance Friday night was comic Beppe Grillo, a 5-Star-Movement founder. The 5-Stars hope to capture their first premiership in Sunday’s general election. Opinion polls indicate they’re the most popular party of Italian voters but might fall short of a majority. A good third of those polled are undecided or might not vote.
The publication of opinion polls is banned two weeks before the vote. But the 5-Star candidate for premier, Luigi Di Maio, told the rally he has seen one recent, unpublished poll and “we’re one step away from victory.”
By law, campaigning is banned on the day before the vote, so parties were holding final rallies throughout Italy on Friday.
The leader of Italy’s anti-migrant euroskeptic League party, Matteo Salvini, has closed his campaign with another swipe at immigrants, claiming they are taking jobs that should go to young Italians.
Salvini told a rally in Milan on Friday that young Italians must either leave the country to find work or get “used up” on short-term contracts that aren’t renewed.
He added “when they are done consuming Italians, there is an army of immigrants. This is what immigration is for, immigration is to have new slaves to take advantage of in the place of young Italians.”
Salvini said he would mimic French leader Emmanuel Macron’s position that economic migrants must be sent back to their native countries. He has previously pledged to send home 150,000 during his first year in office if he wins Italy’s national election on Sunday.
A small, far-right party running in Italy’s election has reported two more attacks on its supporters, including a candidate for the Senate.
The CasaPound party said that late Thursday that one of its candidates for the Senate was beaten up in the southern city of Taranto and had to be treated at an emergency room.
The party also said that a party supporter was attacked in Leghorn, a northwestern port town, also on Thursday.
Violence has punctuated much of Italy’s campaign for Sunday’s election, notably involving far-right and far-left proponents.
Opinion polls indicate that that Parliament will end up being split into three blocs and that protracted political negotiations might be needed to form Italy’s next government.
As Italian political leaders wound up their election campaigning, Premier Paolo Gentiloni had some good news to tweet.
Gentiloni isn’t his Democratic Party’s official candidate for premier in Sunday’s national election, but he’s considered popular and could be a compromise choice if a grand coalition is needed to break post-vote gridlock.
Gentiloni tweeted Friday that a deal was struck to save 500 jobs with Embraco and Whirlpool at a factory near Turin at least through 2018.
Ex-Premier Matteo Renzi’s Democrats have plunged in popularity in opinion polls. But the same polls tab Gentiloni as Italy’s most admired leader. Renzi, the Democrats’ official candidate for premier, resigned in 2016 after losing a referendum on his reforms.
Analysts say Sunday’s election will likely yield a hung parliament, making a coalition government necessary.
Italy’s election campaign reads much like a police blotter, chronicling a country whose politics lately have been increasingly nasty, divisive and even violent.
A young man knifed while affixing posters for a far-left party. A politician for a pro-fascism party beaten up on the street. A candidate for premier spat upon and shoved while stumping for her far-right party. Protests and counter-protests, in the streets from north to south.
The national vote this Sunday to determine who’ll govern Italy appears unlikely to bring much relief. Prospects are high for weeks, even months, of more political tensions after the vote, with backroom party maneuvering quite possibly producing a crisis-prone, short-lived government with limited chances of making headway on Italy’s economic and social issues.
Frances D’Emilio is on twitter at www.twitter.com/fdemilio