The extremely conservative and nationalist party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) leads the polls. Leader Giorgia Meloni could become the first female prime minister of Italy, one of the largest countries in the eurozone. Lega, of former minister Salvini, and Forza Italia, of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, are allies of Meloni.
A student at the American University of Princeton had asked von der Leyen if she was concerned about the Italian elections. Von der Leyen then referred to the instruments Brussels has to tackle difficult member states. For example, the European Commission announced last week that it wants to suspend 65 percent of a number of EU funds for Hungary. The sanction is intended to force Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to take decisive action against the country’s corruption and fraud with EU funds.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Salvini expressed his dissatisfaction with von der Leyen’s statements. “Was this threat, blackmail or institutional intimidation? The president must apologize or resign.”