Police Fight Radicals as Italian Candidates Unite Against Juncker

Italians go to the polls on March 4 with voters divided over the country’s relationship with the European Union, taxes and immigration. Here’s your daily guide to the latest news.

Few things bring political rivals together in the heat of an election campaign quite like foreign meddling. As European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker demonstrated yesterday.

Juncker’s warning of market turmoil if the election leaves the government unable to function was splashed across the front pages of Italy’s main newspapers as politicians of all stripes accused him of interfering with the vote. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who’ll see Juncker at an EU summit in Brussels today, assured voters they’ll have an effective government regardless of the outcome at the polls.

Violence broke out again, in Turin this time, where police clashed with far-left activists who were trying to disrupt an event by a far-right group. A neo-fascist party was targeted in a separate attack earlier in the week. None of this bodes well for at least four rallies planned for Saturday in Rome.

Antifascist activists clash with police in Turin. 
Photographer: Piero Cruciatti/AFP via Getty Images

It can be daunting to get a grip on Italian politics. So John Follain and Chiara Albanese have put together the ultimate guide to the who, what and why of the upcoming elections in this handy QuickTake.

If you're getting edgy about election risk,  John Ainger has tips on how to protect yourself from any upset.

Quote of the day:
“We are ready to discuss with other EU countries on an agreed exit with some restrictions but, by ourselves, we can’t do anything. Holding a referendum is impossible.” Northern League leader Matteo Salvini bows to the reality of the euro.

“Free flights to Italy” –  not another outlandish campaign promise, but the name of an actual party appealing to Italians in North America. You probably won’t be surprised this turns out to be a scam. The party’s founders seem to live in a small city outside of Rome, their headquarters are non existent and those flights to Italy? Good luck getting them refunded... 

Who’s tweeting: Matteo Renzi touts Italy’s economic recovery with the hashtag #pensaci (#thinkaboutit), Salvini likes Macron’s immigration reform, while Berlusconi reverts to type: promising to slash taxes for homeowners, cars, farmers and inheritance.

In case you missed it, Berlusconi says Trump should count to 10 before tweeting,  Salvini says Italians mustn’t take orders from Brussels or Berlin and, despite its humongous debt, short-term volatility shouldn’t be worrying for Italy.

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