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Anti-Migrant Leader Wins Power in Italy12/10 12:41

   ROME (AP) -- The leader of an Italian party that hopes to capitalize on 
growing resentment of migrants and asylum-seekers told supporters in Rome 
Sunday it would be "splendid" if he wins national elections and his government 
can issue one-way tickets home to undeserving refugees.

   Matteo Salvini wants to propel his anti-migrant Northern League, which was 
founded in 1991 as a regional party in Italy's affluent north, to its first 
premiership in the national election set for early 2018.

   To do so, Salvini needs to build support in the south, an underdeveloped 
area of Italy the League has long denigrated as living off government aid.

   Many of the thousands of people who turned out for his Rome rally did come 
from southern Italy. One of them was Adriana Domeniconi, who traveled by bus 
from Matera in the "instep" of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula.

   "We're no longer about north vs. south, but against those invading our 
country," she said.

   Domeniconi was referring to the hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers and 
economic migrants that have received shelter in Italy after being rescued at 
sea from traffickers' boats setting out from the Libyan coast.

   Opinion surveys have found that many Italians blame the newcomers for crime.

   "The Salvini government will have the (nation's) doors wide open for women 
and children who are fleeing war, but not for those bringing war to our home," 
Salvini told the rally. For the latter, "we need one-way tickets to send them 
back."

   The advertised goal of the rally was to oppose a proposed citizenship law 
that the center-left, Democrat-led government of Premier Paolo Gentiloni is 
supporting in Parliament before the legislature's term expires in March.

   Currently, children born in Italy to migrants with long-term residence 
permits have to wait until they reach age 18 to seek Italian citizenship. The 
proposed law would make children as young as 12 who are born in Italy, as well 
as those arriving as youngsters, eligible to request citizenship after five 
years of schooling in Italy.

   Saying that citizenship "isn't an electoral gift," Salvini told the 
approving crowd that the legislation "won't happen thanks to the League and 
you."

   The Northern League is planning to run in alliance with the center-right 
Forza Italia party of former three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi and the tiny 
right-wing Brothers of Italy party.

   Berlusconi, who due to a tax fraud conviction isn't eligible to run for 
office, considers himself Italy's center-right leader and hasn't voiced support 
for a Salvini premiership.

   Opinion polls published last week indicated Berlusconi's party had about a 
two-point advantage over the Northern League. Berlusconi hopes the three-party 
alliance will give the coalition enough votes to be the biggest bloc in 
Parliament and clinch the premiership.

   Salvini at the rally heaped praise on U.S. President Donald Trump and 
Russian President Vladimir Putin, the former for tax reform and fighting 
illegal immigration and the latter for "defending values and national borders."

   Of his hopes to become premier, Salvini said: "If the Italians want that, it 
would be a splendid reality."


(KA)

 
 
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