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Macron sings praises of Italian prime minister ahead of election

From Reuters - January 11, 2018

ROME (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron heaped praise on Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in Rome on Thursday, less than two months before national elections in Italy that opinion polls say the ruling center-left government will lose.

Macron told reporters at the end of a two-day visit to Rome that he had no intention of interfering in the Italian ballot, which is set for March 4. But his comments left little doubt over where his sympathies lay.

It is up to Italians to decide how to vote, but let me say that Europe has been very lucky to have Gentiloni and I hope we can continue the work that we have started, he told a news conference, standing alongside the Italian leader.

Gentilonis Democratic Party (PD) is trailing in the opinion polls to both the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and a center-right bloc that includes the far-right Northern League party and the nationalist Brothers of Italy.

All the main opposition parties are seen as hostile to Brussels to various degrees and all are seeking significant changes to EU budget rules. The League is also pushing for Italy to quit the euro currency, although its partners reject this.

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