Italy elects first black senator in history, for anti-immigration Lega party

Toni Iwobi, an immigrant from Nigeria, is far-right League's spokesman on immigration

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 07 March 2018 17:21
Comments
Toni Iwobi has been a member of Northern League for 25 years and denies the party is racist
Toni Iwobi has been a member of Northern League for 25 years and denies the party is racist

Italy has elected its first ever black senator, a Nigerian immigrant who is a member of the anti-immigration Lega (League) party.

Toni Iwobi announced “with great emotion” he had been elected in Brescia, Lombardy, to the upper house of the country’s parliament.

The far-right League became the second-largest party in parliament in Italy’s general election.

In a Facebook post, Mr Iwobi said: “After more than 25 years of battles as part of the League’s great family, I am about to start another great adventure!”

The League’s economics chief cited Mr Iwobi’s election as evidence the party was not racist.

“I’d like to point out that the first black senator in the history of the Italian republic is one of ours,” Claudio Borghi told Reuters.

His comments came after hundreds of African immigrants and Italians protested in Florence for a second day, chanting “no more racism” and criticising the anti-immigrant party for stoking racial tensions after an Italian man shot dead a Senegalese street vendor.

Italian Elections 2018: Democratic Party concedes defeat

Italian politicians, especially those from the League, regularly portrayed migrants as criminals and called for mass deportations during the country's parliamentary election.

Last month, a man with neo-Nazi sympathies and ties to the League opened fire on African migrants in the city of Macerata, wounding six before he was captured.

On Tuesday, protesters targeted the League’s leader, Matteo Salvini, singing: “Salvini vaffanculo (f*** off).”

Mr Iwobi, the party’s spokesman on immigration, has been a League member for 25 years.

He helped write the party’s anti-immigrant platform, which proposed measures to make it easier to deport migrants and to refuse to take in refugees rescued by NGOs in the Mediterranean.

Mr Iwobi has insisted the party is not racist.

“Racism means feeling superior to others. While in the movement I find many strong positions, but also a lot of respect,” he told the newspaper Corriere della Sera.

More than 600,000 migrants have arrived on Italian shores over the past four years, making immigration a top concern for voters during the campaign.

The League and the Five Star Movement, which emerged as the largest party in the vote, have both promised to ramp up deportations of illegal migrants.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in