Italy irked by Oettinger 'markets' remark

Markets will stop Italians voting populists says commissioner

(ANSA) - Rome, May 29 - Italy was irked Tuesday by European Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger's saying financial markets would "give a signal" to Italians not to vote for populist parties of the right or left.
    Italy's two populist parties, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the anti-migrant Euroskeptic League, led the reaction but were not alone.
    Democratic Party bigwig Carlo Calenda, the outgoing industry minister, for instance, called Oettinger's intervention "intolerable" and called for him to apologise or resign. M5S European Parliament delegation head Laura Agea said "we ask European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to immediately contradict Commissioner Oettinger.
    She said "his words are of an unprecedented gravity and are proof of the clear manipulations that Italian democracy has suffered in the last few days".
    League leader Matteo Salvini called for Oettinger's "immediate" resignation and said: "They are without shame in Brussels. "The European budget commissioner, Germany's (Guenther) Oettinger, says that 'the markets will teach Italians to vote for the right thing'. If that isn't a threat...I'm not scared #Italiansfirst".
    Italy's permanent representation to the EU said "Italian voters do not need any lectures, free elections and democracy are fundamental European values. "Italian democracy must be respected by all, as always in our republican history, the Italians will vote in a free and independent way", it said under the hashtag #respectmycountry.
    Fallout on the financial markets will prompt Italians not to vote for populist parties, Oettinger of Germany said Tuesday, according to an excerpt from a Deutsche Welle interview to be published tonight. "The negative development of the markets will lead Italians not to vote much longer for the populists," he reportedly said.
    Deutsche Welle later issued the full quote as follows: "My concern and my expectation is that the development of the markets in Italy, of bonds and the economy, will become so radical that it could become a signal to voters not to vote for populists on the right or left".
    Oettinger's remark that financial markets might soon teach Italians not to vote for populists any more was "ill-considered", European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's spokesperson said. "Juncker has been informed of this ill-considered comment, and has asked me to clarify the Commission's official position: it is up to the Italians and only them to decide the future of their country, and to no one else". Juncker himself said "Italy deserves respect" and Brussels "is ready to cooperate responsibly and with mutual respect", stressing that its fate could not be decided by the financial markets. "Italy's fate cannot depend on possible injunctions from the financial markets," he said. "Italy, no matter what parties will run it in the future, is a founder member of the EU which has furnished a huge contribution to European integration," he said. Juncker also said he was "convinced that Italy will continue its European course".
    European Council President Donald Tusk appealed to European institutions to respect Italian voters after Oettinger's remarks. Tusk said "my appeal to all European institutions is please, respect the voters: we are here to serve them, not to lecture them".
    It is not up to the markets to decide Italy's destiny, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said. "Italy is not a democracy with limited sovereignty. It is not the markets to decide the destiny of the republic but the citizens with their free vote and the institutions that represent them. I urge everyone to respect the will of the Italians. I have full confidence in them"," he said.
    Two populist parties, the 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the League, came out on top in the March 4 general election and are set to score even heavier in the next elections, expected in September or October.
    Deutsche Well's communications chief Christoph Jumpelt clarified to ANSA that its journalist did not clearly separate his own assessment from the quotation mistakenly attributing to Oettinger the view that markets would soon stop Italians voting for populists.
   

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