Italy fuming over EC head’s comments on the elections

During a debate at the American Princeton University, the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen stated that the European Commission has tools that it can use if the Italian elections happen to go in a “difficult direction”. Her comments sparked outrage among the Italian public.

“We’ll see if things go in a difficult direction, I’ve spoken about Hungary and Poland, we have tools if things go in the right direction and people as a body, where always governments have to be accountable to play an important role,” Ursula von der Leyen said when being asked about the Italian elections.

Pre-election polls show a clear victory for the centre-right bloc, namely the Brothers of Italy, League and Forward Italy groups.

Outrage in Italy

Centre-left and centre-right politicians in Italy were outraged at the words by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in reference to Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

Some politicians are demanding an apology, while others have stated that they will be pushing for the resignation of the EC chief.

The League’s MEPs have tabled a motion in the European Parliament requesting to hear Ursula Von der Leyen explain her statements. Earlier, League leader Matteo Salvini announced that his group in the EP would be requesting a vote of no confidence against her. Even the head of the centre-left Democratic Party, former Prime Minister Enrico Letta - referring to the EC President’s words - said “there is a need for the European institutions to leave the field open”. He expressly opined that Von der Leyen's statements “must be clarified”. In Mr Letta’s view, in the case that the words are not clarified, “they will have the opposite effect to the one intended”.