Matteo Salvini urges Europeans to vote for nationalist parties to prevent ‘caliphate’ on continent

Italian deputy prime minister meets with far-right Hungarian leader Viktor Orban

Zamira Rahim
Friday 03 May 2019 00:37 BST
Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orban met in Budapest on Thursday
Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orban met in Budapest on Thursday (AP)

Italy’s far-right deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini has claimed that people should vote for nationalist parties in the EU elections as there is a risk of “an Islamic caliphate in Europe.”

The populist politician was discussing the upcoming vote during a visit to Budapest.

He claimed that left-wing leadership in the EU Parliament would lead to such a “caliphate” and declared he would do “everything to save the continent”, according to Daily News Hungary.

Mr Salvini, who provided no evidence or context for his assertions, has routinely made anti-Muslim and anti-immigration comments in the past.

The 46-year-old held a joint press conference in Budapest alongside Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orban.

Mr Orban, who has been accused himself of using antisemitic and racist rhetoric, told journalists that Europe should prioritise culture founded on “Christian” values.

He also suggested that refugees were invading the continent and declared Mr Salvini’s visit an honour.

The warmth between the two far-right leaders comes ahead of the European elections on 26 May.

Last year they pledged to work together for the elections, to oppose what they saw as a pro-migration group of countries led by Emmanuel Macron.

Mr Macron criticised the nationalist politicians at the time.

“It is clear that today a strong opposition is building up between nationalists and progressives and I will yield nothing to nationalists and those who advocate hate speech,” he said in August 2018.

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“So if they wanted to see me as their main opponent, they were right to do so.”

Mr Orban’s ruling Fidesz Party was suspended from the mainstream centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament in March, over its record on respect for the rule of law, freedom of the press and minorities’ rights.

He has hinted at leaving the EPP after the vote, another reason for possibly tightening ties with Mr Salvini, head of the right-wing League Party.

The League is part of the right-wing Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the EU parliament.

Mr Salvini has been working to create a new Eurosceptic alliance that hopes to become the largest faction in the EU parliament.

Additional reporting by agencies

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