Migration a central theme of Italy's election campaign

Migration a central theme of Italy's election campaign

45,664 migrants have arrived in Italy since January, and authorities managed to deport very few of them back to outside EU borders. A central topic of the election campaign, after the defeat of the Italian left wing, is what each alliance would do against the migrant crisis, which is spiralling out of hand.


The number of migrants arriving in Europe increased by 86 per cent between January and July compared to the same period of last year, according to Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. In July the number of illegal arrivals alone grew by 63 per cent to 34,570, compared to July 2021, data released by the agency suggest. A total of 155,090 migrants arrived in the EU in the period between January and June. Frontex emphasizes that Ukrainian refugees are not included in those figures.

More than 14,866 illegal entries were registered on the Western Balkan route, which remains the most active. The number is almost three times higher than in last July. The migrants using this route to enter the EU were primarily from Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey.

The central migration route of the Mediterranean was used by 42,500 migrants between January and June, a 42 per cent increase compared to the first seven months of last year. Italy is the most exposed to migratory pressures, where the migrant crisis is spiralling out of control. The reason is that the ousted leftist government did not care about border defence, and this, in turn, had a negative impact on an already deteriorating public security. It comes as little surprise that the central topics of the campaign for the September elections are public security and the management of the migration crisis. Centrist-right parties have sent a clear message to voters in the past few days. Former PM Silvio Berlusconi, the president of the Forza Italia party, said that

„illegal immigration into our country is not only a humanitarian problem, but a practice dating back to a long time, which comprises numerous aspects of illegality. ****Illegal immigration is notorious for human trafficking and a serious threat to our economy and security. My government practically stopped it, with only 4,000 incoming immigrants in 2010, but today it is once again a great threat to Italy.”

Mr Salvini also underlined that Italy was unable to handle the ceaseless wave of migrants arriving primarily from North Africa and the Middle East. He added,

„Europe must help us: We must stop the landings by making new agreements with the African countries along the Mediterranean.”

In agreement with Mr Berlusconi, party chair Giorgia Meloni, whose Brothers of Italy (FdI) party is currently leading the public opinion polls, spoke of a similar position. According to Ms Meloni:

„in agreement with the Libyan authorities, we are advocating a European naval mission and the creation of ‘hotspots’ in Africa. There, refugees would be distinguished from economic migrants, the former would be relocated, and the latter would be deported back to their counties of origin. On the one hand, this would deal a heavy blow to human traffickers. On the other hand, it would give us a chance at tackling secondary migration.”

The third member of the alliance, the Lega, also set the management of the migration crisis as one of its top priorities. According to party leader and former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini,

„we need a minister who is ready to protect the borders, we owe it to the Italians who are in a difficult situation.” The ex-minister added that „we can’t wait to return to government to do the work, and provide for the security and defense of Italy.”

Mr Salvini was Italy’s interior minister for most of 2019 until his party’s coalition with the Five Star Movement (M5S) collapsed and he resigned in September. However, during his time as minister, Mr Salvini was credited with greatly reducing the number of illegal migrants arriving on Italian shores. One of Mr Salvini’s policies was to close Italian ports to NGOs providing a type of taxi service for migrants, although these NGOs have resumed their operations after Mr Salvini’s departure.



illegal migrants, italy, voting