Matteo Salvini, leader of the Lega Nord, has promised he will deport half a million migrants if he becomes Prime Minister of ITaly.
The Italian populist promised that if he is elected Prime Minister in the national election in March 2018 he will deport 100,000 migrants within his first year and half a million over the course of his five-year term, the Telegraph reports.
“There are half a million irregular migrants in Italy. All of them need to be sent home,” Salvini said earlier this week.
Salvini has been accused by many in the mainstream media of being xenophobic or even racist for his anti-mass migration stance.
He addressed these detractors, saying: “The only antidote to racism is to control, regulate and limit immigration. There are millions of Italians in economic difficulty. Italians are not racist, but out-of-control immigration brings with it far from positive reactions. We want to prevent that.”
Salvini and the Lega Nord have formed an electoral alliance with billionaire former four-time Prime Minister and leader of Forza Italia Silvio Berlusconi, and the conservative-nationalist Brothers of Italy party led by Giorgia Meloni.
Who will become Prime Minister if this alliance wins the election will depend on which party garners the most votes. Currently, the Lega Nord lags only two percentage points behind Forza Italia in a recent poll by polling firm EMG.
Italy, EMG poll:
FI-EPP: 16% (+1)
FdI-*: 5% (-1)
Field work: 19/01/18–21/01/18
Sample size: 1,803
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) January 24, 2018
However, even if Forza Italia place first Mr Berlusconi may be unable to become Prime Minister, as he is barred from office due to a prior conviction for tax evasion.
The fiery comments are just the latest from Salvini, who is also known as a staunch eurosceptic. Earlier this month the Lega Nord leader said that the European Union “can go fuck itself” in an explosive interview.
“Europe has been punishing us for the last 15 years and we are worse off than 15 years ago,” he said, adding: “European measures are the last thing I am interested in.”
Italy has been burdened with hundreds of thousands of migrants who, until recently, were being ferried to Italy from only a few miles off the Libyan coast by pro-migration NGO “rescue” ships accused of working with people-smugglers.
While the EU has tried to alleviate the pressure on Italy, as well as Greece, by forcing a migrant redistribution quota scheme, many countries including Czechia, Poland, Hungary, and now Austria are resisting the scheme, favouring deportations and strong borders and maritime patrols instead.