The European Union is facing backlash amongst its members as more countries look to conservative Eurosceptic parties, a political commentator has claimed. Italy looks set to elect Giorgia Meloni, leader of the right-wing Brothers of Italy party, as its first female Prime Minister this week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made some somewhat controversial comments ahead of the poll.
During a conference at Princeton University on Thursday, Ms von der Leyen responded to claims that some of the Italian candidates were “figures close to Putin”.
She said: “If things go in a difficult direction — and I’ve spoken about Hungary and Poland — we have the tools.”
It is thought she was referring to the “ability of the European Commission to cut funds allocated to member countries when they are deemed to be violating the rule of law”, reported POLITICO.
Director of the Orthodox Conservatives think tank Joseph Robertson told Express.co.uk that Ms von der Leyen’s approach appears to be “backfiring” with European voters.
He said: “As a swing towards conservative politics sweeps across Europe, with first Sweden and now Italy moving towards right-leaning parties, Meloni will historically become Italy’s first female Prime Minister.
“Ursula von der Leyen appears to hate the sight of a genuinely strong woman who opposes her politics and has acted in a shockingly undemocratic way by suggesting that the European Union could enforce political persuasion on one of its member states due to the result of a fair and democratic election.
“As in the case of EU dealings with Andrzej Duda, the Polish President, and Viktor Orban of Hungary, this hardline against traditional conservatism appears to be backfiring as EU popularity plummets at the polls.
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“With conservative national parties also on the rise in France, at the heart of the EU axis of power, the European Commission must surely now change its tune unless it wishes to crumble beneath a wave of dissident conservative voters who have had their values trampled on for long enough, by out of touch bureaucrats who do not represent their national interests.”
The European Commission President’s comments have also sparked fury amongst Italian politicians, with right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini tweeting: “What is this, a threat? This is shameful arrogance.”
He also asked Ms von der Leyen to “respect the free, democratic and sovereign vote of the Italian people”.
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Mr Salvini spoke out on Italian TV, saying: “If anyone in Brussels thinks of cutting the funds that belong to Italy, because the League wins the elections, then we have to rethink this Europe.
“This is institutional bullying.”
Italy’s Democratic Party has officially conceded defeat as Ms Meloni is thought to have won 41-45 percent of the vote, according to a Consorzio Opinio Italia poll for Rai.
Her party would need to form a coalition with her main allies, anti-migrant League leader Matteo Salvini and conservative former premier Silvio Berlusconi, in order to achieve a majority.