Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far right FdI party and election frontrunner, has proposed a naval blockade in the Mediterranean to stop migration to Italy. Left-leaning politicians and a Catholic aid organization say the proposal is anti-democratic and violates international treaties.
Centro Astalli -- a Jesuit-run aid organization tasked with supporting refugees and migrants -- was among those who criticized the proposal to create a "naval blockade" in the Mediterranean to stop migration to Italy by far-right politician Giorgia Meloni in recent weeks.
"Those who describe desperate migrants crossing the Mediterranean in search of democracy, peace, and freedom as dangerous enemies to be defended against using blockades and pushbacks, show that they do not know what democracy, peace, and freedom are," they tweeted on Monday (August 29).
Migration: Big issue in the election campaign
Opinion polls currently see Meloni's far-right party Brothers of Italy (FdI) as the frontrunner in the upcoming general election on September 25. They are polling at roughly 24%, slightly more than the center-left Democratic Party (PD). Many experts believe that Meloni could be on track to be the future prime minister, in a coalition government with the far-right League party (led by Matteo Salvini) and center-right Forza Italia (led by Silvio Berlusconi).
Migration has been a central issue in the Italian election campaign thus far. A government led by Meloni with the support of Salvini could mean the introduction of hardline anti-migrant policies in Italy.
"I think that the most serious thing that can be done is a European mission to stop the departures in collaboration with the Libyan authorities," Meloni said on Monday in the Sicilian city of Messina. "Europe, for example, negotiated with Turkey on the route of migrants arriving from the east to stop them. And it is not clear why Italy was abandoned on the Mediterranean route. Probably going to the EU and asking for a mission to establish in Africa who has the right to refugee status and distributing only refugees could be taken more seriously..."
Several left-leaning politicians also criticized the naval blockade proposal.
Violation of international treaties?
"Foisting on Italian citizens the recipe of a naval blockade, as if this would help their economic conditions, is pure propaganda against those dealing with immense adversity," read a statement issued by the co-spokespeople of the green party Europa Verde: Angelo Bonelli and Eleonora Evi, and the secretary of the left-wing Sinistra Italiana party, Nicola Fratoianni. The two parties have formed an alliance for the upcoming election.
"And it would be, above all, a violation of international treaties the likes of which has not been seen since the 1920s", a period that is "so dear to FdI", the statement said in reference to the Fascist period in Italy. Italy was ruled by the facist Mussolini regime from 1922 to 1943. While Meloni has been careful to distance herself from Mussolini, her party is seen as a successor to a party formed by Mussolini supporters and is known to contain members with an affinity for the fascist era.
"The idea of the naval blockade, launched at random, has no possibility of coming into being. There is the need, instead, to work so that the dream of an open and solidarity-focused Europe," Bonelli, Evi and Fratoianni said, calling for "legal and safe migration channels that guarantee to all the right to life and dignity."
Meloni responded in a Facebook post, claiming that the Left did not "tolerate anyone wanting to defend borders and stop human trafficking to Italy. "