Even Italy’s eurosceptics have given up on leaving the euro

With Italy’s general election approaching, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which once promised Italian voters a referendum on the euro, says it is no longer seeking to take Italy out of the single currency.
Nor will a conservative coalition pursue the policy, according to its de facto director, Silvio Berlusconi – though his far-right allies, the Northern League, disagreed.
That leaves the League – until recently a fringe regional party – as the largest political force still opposing Italy’s membership of the euro. In any case it would likely be overruled by its senior partner in the alliance, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy) party.
Matteo Salvini, the Northern League leader attempting to make the party a national force, “has changed his position on the euro”, Berlusconi said in a radio interview on Tuesday.
“He has understood that leaving is impossible and untenable for our economy. The currency started badly, but that said today we can no longer do without the euro.”
The League’s economics spokesman, Claudio Borghi, promptly disagreed, telling Italian television that “one second after the League is in government it will begin all possible preparations to arrive at our monetary sovereignty. It’s a question of national security.”
He might find backing from the third member of the rightwing alliance, the Brothers of Italy party, which has opposed the single currency in the past. It has been less vocal on the issue recently, however, focusing its criticism instead on the European Union’s broader economic policies and its approach to migration.
This last issue in particular promises to weigh far more heavily in the election campaign than the euro – especially now that the Five Star Movement (M5S) has dropped its opposition.
“I believe it is no longer the right moment for Italy to leave the euro,” the M5S leader, Luigi Di Maio, told Rai TV on Tuesday, calling a referendum on the single currency “a last resort which I hope to avoid”.
While polls indicate that Italy is one of the most eurosceptic members of the EU, most moderate voters balk at leaving the euro. They are more likely to consider voting for populist parties like M5S or the Northern League because of concerns over immigration, one recent survey suggested.
The centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which has led Italy’s coalition government throughout the ongoing migration crisis, is currently polling behind M5S but ahead of Forza Italia. Together the PD and its allies are in front of both the conservative coalition and M5S, which is not part of any alliance.
The vote is expected to take place on March 4th.