The former Italian leader warned the European Union a surge of support for populist parties could spark a quick succession of Brexit-like departures among member states. The warning from Enrico Letta came as deputy Italian Prime Minister Matteo Salvini pledged to form a coalition of eurosceptic member states to end the EU “nightmare.” Speaking to CNBC, Mr Letta said: “It is clear the victory of populist parties will bring, one after the other, 28 Brexits.
“The day after Brexit, if you take now the cause of Le Pen, Salvini, these people were happy of Brexit and they were saying to their countries ‘look at the British, they took the right decision, we have to do the same’.
“Take the quotes of Salvini and di Maio on Italy. They were saying that we need to have a referendum, too, we have to decide in the same way.”
With May’s vote just weeks away, experts say anti-EU parties have a chance to impact the future of the European Union if they join forces to work together.
Investors expect heightened political uncertainty after the May 26 election, in which 705 members of the European Parliament MEPs will be elected, or 751 if Britain fails to leave the EU as planned.
Mr Letta however insisted the changes of a complete change of structure of the European Parliament in favour of eurosceptic parties is unlikely.
He continued: “My point is that I’m sure that populists won’t win the next European election.
“They will be marginalised by the vote because they are divided and the European Parliament is a parliament where, if you are in a minority, you only have droit de tribune, nothing more.”
Buoyed by his own success and voter fatigue with mainstream parties, Mr Salvini has been trying to build bridges with the likes of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Austrian far-right politician Heinz-Christian Strache.
With the two biggest political blocs expected to lose their combined majority, the Italian deputy leader and other far-right leaders hope to form an opposition, eurosceptic alliance with enough seats in the assembly to block or hold up legislation.
AfD chairman Jörg Meuthen revealed the new alliance would be called the European Alliance for People and Nations and would involve at least 10 parties.
Speaking from Milan along with the leaders of the Danish People’s Party, The Finns Party and Alternative for Germany, Mr Salvini said: “We are working for a new European dream to many citizens. To many citizens and people today, the EU is a nightmare and not a dream.
“We are working to take labour, family and safety back into the centre. We are talking about environmental protections, the future of younger generations.
“We try to do it with alternative movements after those of which have been in the power over the last decades, the Socialist and Democrats with their alliance have led us to uncertainty, frictions and a lack of safety.
“This is an alliance looking for the future. We start today. This family is going to get larger, including movements we have never been operating in the past.”
According to a Politico study, the nationalist parties could gain at least 150 seats in the upcoming ballot.
If the eurosceptic groups manage to organise themselves into one bloc, they will challenge the traditional parliamentary giants – Jean-Claude Juncker’s European People’s Party.