March 3, 2018  |  Updated November 7, 2018

#ElectionWatch: How Russia-Italy Relations are Impacting the Italian Elections

By Lauren Speranza
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) chatted with then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome on November 6, 2003. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

Covert influence operations are not as necessary when overt influence already exists

Russian interference in Western democratic elections remains a top concern for the transatlantic community following a series of recent consequential votes on both sides of the Atlantic. Over the past several months, campaigns in the United Kingdom, United States, France, Germany, and elsewhere have been subject to Russian meddling, garnering increasing attention on the international stage. With Italy’s national elections next on the docket, anticipation over Russian motives and capabilities inside the Italian electoral space continues to mount.

The impact of Russian interference has varied across these cases, and the Kremlin has honed its ability to tailor its tactics to each individual event. For example, in the United States, Russia conducted a long-term campaign to undermine the 2016 presidential elections, using a steady trickle of leaks and disinformation, which was readily amplified by various actors in media and across the political spectrum.

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