Italian Hot Mic Shows Berlusconi's Allies Fear Five Star Surge

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(Bloomberg) -- Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right allies were caught on camera confiding their worries that the populist Five Star Movement could sweep through Italy’s south in Sunday’s election.

Before the 81-year-old Berlusconi arrived for a coalition rally in Rome Thursday, his allies were picked up by a live microphone discussing their chances as they waited on stage for the former prime minister. The newspaper Corriere della Sera posted a video of their exchange on its website.

Matteo Salvini of the euroskeptic League tells centrist Raffaele Fitto he’s not sure how he’ll do in the depressed south where’s he’s been trying to extend his Milan-based party’s reach.

“Down there, Five Star,” Salvini says. “Five Star are flying,” Fitto replies. Salvini mumbles in agreement.

Fitto, whose political base is in the south, says Five Star could win all the first-past-the-post districts there and the governing Democratic Party will collapse. Salvini curses in response. “I hope the PD will take 22 percent,” he says.

Giorgia Meloni of the far-right Brothers of Italy tells the group she expects the League to beat Berlusconi’s Forza Italia on Sunday. Under their coalition agreement, whichever party gets the most votes will choose the prime minister.

Polls published before a 15-day blackout kicked in showed the four-party coalition was on track to be the biggest bloc, with Five Star the biggest single party in a hung parliament. The PD was running third.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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