Populist leader in Italy sees kinship with French protesters

January 9, 2019
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A protestor holds a placard reading "Red pens, yellow vests, same struggle" during a demonstration of unionist and yellow vests, in Creteil, outside Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. About 200 protesters, including unionists and yellow vests, gathered Wednesday in Creteil, a Paris suburb, as Macron was doing a visit in a facility dedicated to handball. Some scuffles broke out with police forces that used tear gas to keep the crowd at a distance from the French leader. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

ROME (AP) — An Italian government leader says his populist movement is ready to help anti-government protesters in France.

Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said his 5-Star Movement shares a quest for “direct democracy in Europe” with the French protesters.

A 5-Star senator, Ettore Licheri, said on Wednesday that Di Maio is trying to line up “potential allies,” including populists in France, Poland, Croatia and Sweden, ahead of European Parliament elections in May,

The French protests started in November to oppose fuel tax increases, but morphed into a rejection of government economic policies.

Di Maio blogged Monday that a “new Europe is being born” as citizens demand a law-making role. He said the 5-Stars and France’s yellow vest movement “can fight together” for that goal, but denounced the type of protest violence seen in Paris.

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