Fact check: Salvini’s key messages under scrutiny

Italian ports are not as closed as officially stated, and the Italian government is much less active in fighting for its positions vis-à-vis its EU partners. This is no fake news. Regrettably, the fake news are “made in Italy” by the vice prime minister, minister for Home Affairs and leader of the League, Matteo Salvini, and many Italian citizens buy these lies.

The “government of change” has started to rewrite the history of the European Union and abolish old, annoying habits so unfair with regards to Italy. So said Salvini with regard to migration. How many times has the right-wing leader repeated that the Italian ports are no longer a disembarkation point? And how many times has been reiterating that “fun is over”? Countless times. Unfortunately every time it was a lie.

‘Asylum seekers stopped coming’

Despite Salvini’s bragging, official figures contradict him. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) proved the Italian politician’s claims as false, in its regular report on migration flows. Well, Salvini took office on 1 June 2018. Since then, a total of 10.004 asylum seekers have reached the Italian soil. Even if numbers decreased, people arrived every single month. If ports are closed as declared, not a single person could come. But arrivals didn’t stop. So, Salvini’s narrative raises questions.

Furthermore, the figures made public by the UNHCR are based on figures from the Italian Ministry of Interior”, the report specifies. Being the head of the ministry of interior, Salvini cannot ignore the situation. He has the all the data available but prefers to tell Italians that he stopped migrants from coming. And Italians believe him.

‘Italy suffered an invasion’

The migration crisis played a major role in Salvin’s rise to power. A great deal of his electoral campaign was focused on the problem. And he will use the same arguments for the European elections campaign. Playing the strong man over foreigners was a winning move, and the strategy won’t change.

In recent years Salvini insisted that Italy is experiencing an invasion. Once again, official data prove the opposite. Italy is among the last EU member states in terms of immigration density. So was in 2015, year of the peak of the migrations crisis, so was in 2016.

As already mentioned, UNHCR certified that the number of arrivals in Italy went down. As a consequence, an increase of the non-Italian population cannot take place, unless Italians leave the country. But this is another story.

‘Determined with Europe’

Salvini promised Italians to make a difference. Faced with lack of solidarity, the League leader announced he was going to fight in order to bring other European countries to a common solution. Reality suggests other stories. As from he took office, he missed half of the meetings with his counterparts.

Salvini didn’t attend the regular meetings of the Home Affair Council in June (for institutional reasons, since the new government had to oath in Parliament), in October and in December (in both occasions he was replaced by the undersecretary of State for Home Affairs, Nicola Molteni). The Italian minister attended the informal meeting in July, and the conference on security and migration hosted by the Austrian rotating presidency of the Council of the EU in September.

It is impossible to predict whether Salvini’s attitude will ever change in the time to come, but for the time being it seems he prefers to play his game in social media and in newspapers rather than around the table.

After all, Salvini is well known for being absent in action. In Brussels he didn’t the highest votes in the reference report feared by lazy MEPs. He is ranked 750th in terms of quantitative analysis of his activity, and MEPs are 751.

‘I will stop CETA’

Since the very beginning of the drama surrounding the project of a free trade deal between the EU and Canada (CETA), Salvini declared himself against the project, and promised not to ratify the agreement once on power. The Italian government of which he is one of the deputy PMs didn’t ratify it, indeed. But non-ratification is different from stopping the agreement, and this is something Salvini conveniently forgot to tell Italians.

CETA is in force since 21 September 2017, on a provisional basis. Italy’s opposition concern only 2% of CETA, namely a much publicized push to preserve the Italian delicacies from what Salvini called “junk food” coming from Canada. But nobody explained, and  many Italians believed Salvini stopped CETA.

‘All are equal to law’

Another Salvini leitmotiv is the need to apply law and rules. It sounds weird for a government which openly refuses to respect the European rules on public expenditure, deficit, debt and what so ever.

The minister for Home affairs loves to repeat that non-Italians must follow the national legislation (fair enough, no doubt on this), but Italians seem forget that the same man is in charge of a political party recognized guilty of robbing €49 million.

Italian authorities should seize League funds “wherever they may be” until it has recouped some €49 million of public money received by the party’s former leader and convicted fraudster, Italy’s supreme court has ruled.

Is the leader of The League not credible or incredible? That is the question.

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