'Merkel mask'-wearing far-right Italian MEP interrupts Juncker speech with forced handshake (VIDEO)
Gianluca Buonanno – a member of Italy's right-wing Northern League party – walked up to the podium where EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was speaking, shook his hand, and returned to his seat, all while sporting a mask of the German chancellor.
The move was met with applause and laughter from those present.
A tweet posted by Buonanno after the interruption said: “I promised and I did it!” with a video of the stunt.
L'avevo promesso e l'ho fatto !!! Juncker fa quello che dice la Merkel !!! https://t.co/a06oZQI1Yg— Gianluca Buonanno (@BuonannoG) September 9, 2015
Following the interruption, Buonanno stated that Merkel controls the actions of Juncker, and that since she is "never" at the parliamentary sessions, he was happy to take her place, affaritaliani.it reported.
Many have speculated the move was a statement against the scores of refugees streaming into Europe.
Buonanno approached the podium while Juncker was delivering a talk on the refugee crisis engulfing Europe. In the speech, the EU Commission President proposed a quota system for member states to accept a collective total of 160,000 people.
The interruption was likely linked to a picture the MEP posted on Twitter earlier this week, which showed a man wearing a Merkel mask and a T-shirt with the slogan ‘Merkel: Syrian refugees for us. African migrants for Italy’. Merkel has given her public support for refugees fleeing war-torn nations, and Germany has thrown open its borders for new arrivals.
Ecco la Merkel a casa mia... E domani verrà con me a Strasburgo !!! pic.twitter.com/XKr7s2MeSk— Gianluca Buonanno (@BuonannoG) September 7, 2015
"Merkel takes the Syrians schooled and educated, as you choose at the supermarket...Italy [gets] illegal immigrants not [as] educated as the Syrians..." he said.
Buonanno has form in acting strangely during sessions of the EU Parliament. In April 2014, he was thrown out of a session for waving a fish in protest against a bill that could have seen clandestine immigration decriminalized.
Three months earlier, the MEP ‘blacked up’ to deliver an anti-immigration rant in parliament, smearing his face with dark make-up and asking whether “we need to be a bit darker” to get state benefits.
A petition was launched last year calling for Buonanno's resignation from the parliament.