Italian far-right politician Matteo Salvini is prepared to lead the country if his party Lega wins the upcoming elections, he said on Thursday during a visit to a migrant camp in Lampedusa.
"I am absolutely ready," Salvini said, in comments that come as polling suggests a centre-right alliance that includes his party is leading ahead of elections on September 25, dpa news agency reported.
The alliance is made up of the Brothers of Italy, the populist and anti-immigrant Lega led by Salvini, and Forza Italia, led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
However, of that grouping, the Brothers of Italy are strongest, meaning party leader Giorgia Meloni would have the best chance of replacing Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who resigned last month, triggering turmoil.
If the right-wing alliance wins, such a government would be problematic for migration policy and relations with the EU, among other things, after Draghi was seen abroad as a guarantor of stability.
Lawmakers are currently campaigning in the middle of the holiday season and as the country battles a severe drought, energy supply concerns, high inflation and uncertainty caused by the Ukraine war.
Salvini said during his brief visit to the island of Lampedusa that he would "secure the borders" and stop the influx of migrants if the centre-right gains power. "Italy must not open its doors to illegal immigrants who are not fleeing from any war," he told journalists.
Salvini charted a strict anti-migration policy as interior minister from June 2018 to September 2019 and is currently also facing court proceedings for some of the decisions he made at the time.
He has also kept slamming Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese, as the numbers of refugees reaching Italy by boat from Africa has risen compared to last year.
Some 42,465 people have reached Italy by sea this year so far, according to ministry data, more than throughout the whole of 2021, which saw 30,315 arrivals.
The Lampedusa camp is often heavily overcrowded, with images of the crowded, unhygienic conditions causing widespread criticism. "This is unworthy of a civilized country," Salvini said.