The president of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament said Italian politics had entered ‘rough waters.’
Gianni Pittella, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament, announced Saturday that he will run in the Italian general election.
Pittella, 59, said he had received an invitation from former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the leader of the Democratic Party, to stand as a candidate for the Italian senate. “As an act of duty and responsibility towards my party, towards Italy and towards Europe, I have decided to accept this challenge,” he said, adding. “It will not be an easy battle; Italian politics have entered rough waters.”
The S&D leader, who is a close Renzi ally, had skipped a plenary session of the European Parliament last week to travel to Italy and talk about his political future.
Casting the Italian election as a turning point for the country he said: “The Democratic Party remains the last bastion that can prevent Italy from falling to right-wing, populist and xenophobic movements.”
He will remain an MEP and said he would not “shy away” from his duties as president of the S&D group, although along with the leadership he said he would “define how to manage the group most efficiently in the upcoming weeks.”
According to a socialist MEP who spoke on condition of anonymity his most likely replacements at the helm of the S&D group in the European Parliament are German MEP Udo Bullmann or Portuguese MEP Maria João Rodrigues.
Recent polls put Renzi’s center-left Democratic Party on around 24 percent of the vote, behind the populist 5Star Movement at 27 percent. Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party follows at almost 16 percent, with its far-right allies in the Northern League at 14 percent.