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Europe must continue to take the rise of populism seriously, underlines Anna-Maja Henriksson, the chairperson of the Swedish People’s Party.
Europe must continue to take the rise of populism seriously, underlines Anna-Maja Henriksson, the chairperson of the Swedish People’s Party.

 

Anna-Maja Henriksson, the chairperson of the Swedish People’s Party, says she is not surprised by the rise of populist parties to power in Italy.

“One reason for the election result was probably that Italy was left pretty much alone when scores of asylum seekers arrived in Italy,” Henriksson stated in an interview with Talouselämä on Wednesday, 7 March.

The Northern League and Five Star Movement, two populist, anti-establishment parties, won a total of 50 per cent of votes cast in the parliamentary elections held in Italy on Sunday, 4 March.

Henriksson stressed to the business magazine that the resurgence of populism must be taken seriously also elsewhere in Europe. “Italy’s election results serve as a good reminder that we mustn’t give a foothold to populism. That’s why we must take public concerns seriously and offer credible solutions to them.”

The party leaders contacted by the business magazine estimated rather unanimously that the election results are attributable to public discontent and disillusionment with the policies of traditional parties. In addition to Henriksson, immigration was identified as a contributing factor by Jussi Halla-aho (PS) and Sampo Terho (BR).

“If traditional parties refuse to talk about the phenomena that are a concern to citizens, the citizens will look for other alternatives,” said Terho.

“Especially if Europe is unwilling to take resolute action to tackle the problems associated with immigration, there’s a risk that disappointed voters will shift their allegiance for extreme populists and, at worst, pro-Russian right-wing extremists,” he added.

Halla-aho, meanwhile, was the only chairperson who was visibly pleased by the election results in Italy.

“Italy’s election results are a reason for optimism,” he declared. [Matteo] Renzi’s socialist party lost, as the socialists deserved to. Renzi’s tenure as prime minister was a disaster. Italy did nothing to prevent the influx of migrants through its territories in 2015, and Renzi even visited the European Parliament to brag how wonderful it is to have open borders.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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