Rival rallies held across Italy ahead of election | News | DW | 24.02.2018
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Rival rallies held across Italy ahead of election

Rival far-right and anti-fascist demonstrations have been held across Italy. Tensions are high ahead of next weekend's election, which may result in a hung parliament.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in rival far-right and anti-fascist demonstrations on Saturday ahead of March 4 elections.

Some 5,000 police were deployed at more than 100 demonstrations over concern of a repeat of violent clashes that have marked protests in recent weeks.

In the northern business hub of Milan, Matteo Salvini's anti-immigration party The League drew around 20,000 people, according to police. The party put the number at 50,000.

Salvini slammed the immigration policies of the ruling Democratic Party, led by former-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

"Italians first," Salvini told supporters in Milan's central cathedral square.

Clashes between anti-fascist protesters and police erupted at counter-protest against the neo-fascist CasaPound movement in another part of Milan.

Police clashed with left-wing protesters in Milan. (Reuters/M. Pinca)

Police clashed with left-wing protesters in Milan.

In Rome, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Renzi joined an estimated 20,000 people from left-wing groups and the Democratic Party on the streets under the banner "Fascism Never Again."

In Palermo, Sicily, the situation was tense but peaceful at a rally organized by the extreme-right Forza Nuova group.

Hung parliament 

Opinion polls suggest a right-wing coalition led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia, The League and the far-right Brothers of Italy could gain the most votes in next weekend's election but still fall short of reaching a majority to govern.

Read more: Silvio Berlusconi warns of migrant 'social bomb' in Italy  

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement is set to be the largest party in parliament, but it has repeatedly said it will not form a coalition with other parties.

Read more: Italy's Five Star Movement feeds on voters' anger

The Democratic Party is likely to suffer a major blow.

Polling results indicate a likely hung parliament, resulting in possible political instability and market turbulence in the eurozone's third-largest economy.

cw/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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