Renzi un­der fire over mi­grant cap talk Crit­ics claim law­maker is try­ing to court right-wing vot­ers ahead of 2018 elec­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

ROME — For­mer prime min­is­ter Mat­teo Renzi came un­der fire from left­ist op­po­si­tion par­ties af­ter he sug­gested Italy cap the num­ber of asy­lum-seek­ers it takes in, lo­cal me­dia re­ported on Satur­day.

Crit­ics charged Renzi — who is the leader of the rul­ing cen­ter-left Demo­cratic Party and its can­di­date for the pre­mier’s post — is court­ing rightwing vot­ers ahead of the next na­tional elec­tion in spring 2018.

Italy’s cur­rent pol­icy is to take in tens of thou­sands of peo­ple flee­ing war and famine in Africa and the Mid­dle East, af­ter they get res­cued off un­sea­wor­thy boats along the so-called Cen­tral Mediter­ranean route from Libya to Si­cily.

“Cap on mi­grant num­bers. Renzi un­der fire: he’s like Salvini,” La Stampa na­tional daily ti­tled in ref­er­ence to com­ments that Renzi is chas­ing sup­port­ers of Mat­teo Salvini, the leader of the right-wing, anti-im­mi­grant North­ern League party.

Salvini’s party made strong gains in lo­cal elec­tions across Italy last month, which saw the Demo­cratic Party lose key strongholds.

“Let’s help mi­grants in their own homes. Con­tro­versy over Renzi’s phrase, which re­sem­bles a League slo­gan,” wrote La Repub­blica daily pa­per.

“Renzi chases the right on xeno­pho­bic grounds in hopes of pick­ing up votes,” Sen­a­tor Loredana De Petris from the small op­po­si­tion Ital­ian Left (SI) party tweeted on Fri­day.

Her com­ment and oth­ers like it came soon af­ter Renzi pub­lished an ar­ti­cle in which he said Italy must get rid of its “do-gooder men­tal­ity” and its “guilt over those less for­tu­nate than our­selves”.

“If some­one is at risk of drown­ing, ob­vi­ously we have a duty to save him,” wrote Renzi. “But we do not have a moral duty to take him in,” the ex-pre­mier wrote in Demo­crat­ica, the party’s on­line mag­a­zine.

Eco­nomic dis­as­ter

Let­ting ev­ery­one in in­dis­crim­i­nately “would be an eth­i­cal, po­lit­i­cal, so­cial and ul­ti­mately eco­nomic dis­as­ter,” Renzi wrote.

More than 600,000 mi­grants have reached Italy over the past four years, the vast ma­jor­ity ar­riv­ing by boat from Libya.

About 85,000 have come ashore this year alone, roughly 20 per­cent up on the same pe­riod in 2016.

The up­surge in new ar­rivals, most of them from sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, has un­set­tled the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment, which has urged greater help from Eu­ro­pean al­lies in re­set­tling the refugees.

Italy has no moral duty to take ev­ery­one in, but it does have a moral duty to help those in need in their own coun­tries, Renzi said.

“Clearly we need to es­tab­lish a cap on mi­grants, a closed num­ber,” he added, stress­ing that the re­spon­si­bil­ity for tak­ing in asy­lum-seek­ers must be spread out equally with other Eu­ro­pean coun­tries.

“An ex­cess of im­mi­gra­tion doesn’t do any­one any good,” Renzi wrote.

On Thurs­day, the for­mer pre­mier also sug­gested Italy should with­hold EU pay­ments if part­ner coun­tries don’t do their part on mi­grants.

“Let us cut fi­nanc­ing to coun­tries who don’t re­spect ac­cords on mi­grants. They shut down Eu­ro­pean ports We block Eu­ro­pean funds,” he tweeted.

Renzi’s ar­ti­cle was an ex­cerpt from his book, which is due out next week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.