Nick Gutteridge — Daily Express April 18, 2017
ITALY’S main eurosceptic party has soared to a six point poll lead as Sweden’s populists gained ground in the aftermath of the terror attack on Stockholm.
The anti-euro Five Star Movement (M5S) rocketed to 31.5 per cent of the vote in a recent poll, pulling well ahead of the ruling socialists who are languishing on 25 per cent.
At the same time the nationalist Sweden Democrats, who have pledged to hold a Swexit referendum, saw their lead extend to four per cent in the first survey to be carried out since the horror attack in the country’s capital.
The latest results indicate that the populist uprising gripping some of Europe’s biggest countries shows little sign of abating, with both Italy and Sweden due to hold elections next year.
They come at a difficult time for the European Union, which is facing a nerve-wracking contest in France which is being shaken up by anti-EU contenders Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Seven polls were released in the space of four days in the run up to Easter which lay bare a groundswell of support for euroscepticism in struggling Italy.
One of the surveys, conducted by Tecne, gives the M5S a massive 6.5 per cent polling lead over the ruling socialists. The populist party has vowed to call an election on Italy’s membership of the single currency.
In total an average of the seven polls, published between April 11-14, gives M5S a rating of 29.2 per cent compared to the socialists’ 26.6 per cent, with the anti-establishment party winning outright in five of them.
This week the party’s maverick leader Beppe Grillo laid into criticism of his pledge to hold a referendum on membership of the euro after one German journalist described him as a “charlatan”.
He said: “Italian citizens were never asked if they wanted to join the single currency, and after nearly 20 years of failures, unemployment and trade imbalances now politicians must listen with humility.”
Elsewhere a poll released by Sentio showed that the nationalist Sweden Democrats have increased their lead slightly in the aftermath of the Stockholm terror attack.
The anti-EU party is up to 27.2 per cent of the vote – an increase of 1.2 per cent on the month before – whilst the ruling socialists slipped by a point to 23.3 per cent.
Earlier this month Sweden Democrats MEP Peter Lundgren told express.co.uk his country is ready to follow Britain out of the European Union within the next few years.
And the EU is facing a testing time with voters in France set to go to the polls on Sunday to cast their ballots in what is the most unpredictable French election in years.
Four main candidates – three of whom have expressed eurosceptic sentiments to varying degrees – are separated by just a few percentage points with the traditional political consensus in Paris having totally collapsed.
All hopes in Brussels rest with the europhile former banker Emmanuel Macron, who currently holds a slender lead in the polls but whose camp has been alarmed by the meteoric rise of far-left Mr Melenchon in recent weeks.