Trump's Italian cheerleader spreads baseless conspiracy theories over votes

Far-right Matteo Salvini says parts of US had “more votes than voters”, touting conspiracy theory proven to be false

Alessio Perrone
Friday 06 November 2020 12:44
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Far-right Lega party leader Matteo Salvini wears a face mask in support of Donald Trump as he gives a press conference on his party’s alternative proposals to the government’s decree to curb the spread of COVID-19, at the Senate, in Rome, on Tuesday 3 November.
Far-right Lega party leader Matteo Salvini wears a face mask in support of Donald Trump as he gives a press conference on his party’s alternative proposals to the government’s decree to curb the spread of COVID-19, at the Senate, in Rome, on Tuesday 3 November.
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Italy’s far-right politician Matteo Salvini has begun to spread false conspiracy theories in his country about votes in the US Presidential election.

Speaking on Radio24 on Friday morning, far-right Salvini did not provide any evidence for his touting of the US president’s baseless claims that electoral fraud was taking place in the US.

Salvini has made no secret of his support for Trump, has appeared in MAGA hats, “Trump 2020” face masks, and has copied some of Trump’s slogans in the 2018 Italian elections when he used “Italians first” in his campaign.

Salvini echoed the president’s attempt to discredit the results of the US election, saying that parts of the country had “more votes than voters” and that polling stations should stop counting.

The rumour comes from graphics circulating on social media allegedly showing that seven swing states, including the key battlegrounds of Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia, had had more votes than registered voters.

The American fact-checking website Snopes confirmed that the graphics are false. The creators used old numbers of registered voters to create the impression of widespread fraud.

No US state has seen more votes than registered voters, and there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the US election.

Nevertheless, Salvini said: “The fact that in some counties there are more votes than voters, more ballots than people, makes some doubts arise.

“So, it seems necessary that they are stopping and recounting because it’s as if there were two million votes cast in Milan, where we are 1.2 million.”

According to the Italian institute for statistics (ISTAT), the population of Milan is 1.39 million as of June 2020.

“Americans have given a great lesson of participation and democracy, defying fear and the contagion, so seeing those queues [at post offices and polling stations] was a good image, regardless of who will win,” Salvini said.

Salvini, who was the Italian Interior Minister between June 2018 and 1 September 2019, joined several populist politicians who backed Trump for US president.

His far-right Lega party has continued to lose support since the coronavirus flared up in Italy in February and currently polls around 24% according to recent surveys.

On Wednesday morning, one even congratulated Trump prematurely.

With millions of votes still left to count, far-right Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša falsely said Trump had won in a widespread tweet that appears not to have been flagged as disinformation by the social media company.

The US election is still too close to call, and results are expected in the next few days after a handful of states finish counting all the votes.

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