Alex Green, Daily Mail, February 5, 2018
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has pledged to deport 600,000 illegal migrants if he is re-elected.
Warning of a ‘social time bomb ready to explode’, the 81-year-old said in a TV interview his centre-right coalition would remove those who ‘do not have the right to stay’.
‘Immigration has become an urgent question, because after years with a leftwing government, there are 600,000 migrants who don’t have the right to stay,’ he said.
This comes after a far-right extremist shot six Africans on Saturday in Macerata, a small town in northern Italy.
He continued: ‘We consider it to be an absolute priority to regain control over the situation.’
‘When we’re in government we will invest many resources in security.
‘We will boost police presence and reintroduce the ‘Safe Streets’ initiative. Our soldiers will patrol the streets alongside police officers.’
Berlusconi used the interview to attack the EU for failing to share the burden of Italy’s migrant arrivals, adding: ‘Today, Italy counts for nothing in Brussels and the world. We will make it count again.’
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni meanwhile made a pitch for unity after Saturday’s incident, saying: ‘Hate and violence will not divide us.’
Berlusconi’s Forza Italia has forged an alliance with two far-right parties — the Northern League and the smaller Brothers of Italy — in the run to the elections on March 4.
The three-time former prime minister is banned from running for office after being convicted of tax fraud.
However he could still end up having substantial influence should the coalition gain enough of a majority to govern.
Italy is a popular landing point on Europe’s southern coastline for migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, often aboard unseaworthy boats.
But 2017 was a turning point for Italy. The country went from large-scale arrivals in the first six months to a sharp drop-off, thanks to controversial agreement between the EU and Libya.
Some 119,000 people landed in Italy last year, down 35 percent on 2016.
The drive-by attack in Macerata, which saw five men and one women of African descent injured, highlighted bubbling tensions in Italy over its new arrivals.
The woman is alleged to be a Nigerian asylum seeker, Italian media reported on Sunday.
Luca Traini, the 28-year-old arrested over the incident, was a failed candidate for the right wing Northern League in local elections last year.
The party’s leader, Matteo Salvini, distanced himself from the shooting but said an ‘invasion of migrants’ was at the root of a ‘social clash’. ‘I can’t wait to get into government to restore security, social justice and serenity to Italy,’ he said on Saturday.