Italian voters go to the polls in a general election on Sunday, with immigration being a key issue and several anti-immigrant parties in the running. Thirty percent of the population cite immigration as an important issue.

Among the contenders are the ruling center-left Democratic Party, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, and several anti-immigrant parties including the Northern League, the Brothers of Italy, and the 5 Star Movement.

Much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric is fueled by the refugee crisis, but a larger debate is about immigration’s impact on the economy, jobs and unemployment, as well as  Italy’s place within the Europe Union. Italy has received about 600,000 refugees since the Mediterranean crisis in 2015, although that number has gone down as tens of thousands of asylum seekers have moved on to other European countries and the number of new arrivals dropped by 75 percent from 2016 to 2017 following a deal between Italy and Libya.

Background: Although Italian public opinion was already generally negative toward immigration, the political season has exposed anti-immigrant, nationalist and Eurosceptic sentiments similar to those that motivated the Brexit movement. A recent Pew Research poll indicated that while a majority of Italians oppose an Italexit, 34 percent would vote to leave the European Union. While the anti-immigration rhetoric does not concern high-skilled immigrants, Italy’s government could veer toward the right and lead to stricter immigration policies in general.

BAL Analysis: Although Italy’s election results are unpredictable, BAL does not anticipate that they will have a significant impact on policies toward skilled migration or companies that rely on highly skilled foreign workers.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Italy. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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