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Salvini: Portrait of a man behind a mask

A poster with Benito Mussolini and the slogan "Salvini, I was waiting for you" shown by a supporter of The League during a demonstration in Rome [personal archive]

He has a nice smile, he is familiar with emoticons, he posts a lot of funny memes, even kitten. The leader of right-wing party The League, Matteo Salvini, likes to shows himself as a good guy. He fills the social media with friendly messages, but behind this cheerful mask there is something else, really scary. Salvini is not the image he projects of himself. He is, on the contrary, exactly the opposite:a selfish, intolerant, insensible person who takes advantage of a country, playing on people’s worst fears.

What is in Salvini’s mind is actually a mystery. In order to understand him, the best is to imagine the opposite of what the leader of The League states. A clear example of this is migration, a very hot topic on his personal political agenda. Salvini has often denied being against asylum seekers, he has been stressing he is not racist. He explained his decision of closing the Italian ports with the need of forcing the European partners to share what should be a common responsibility. The truth is different.

Italy and the EU partners: the real policy is no migrants

Salvini admires Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary well-known for his anti-migrant fences along the national borders. Salvini doesn’t want migrants, full stop. The League’s chief highlighted the importance and need for non Italians and citizens of non-EU origin to speak Italian. It makes sense, reasoning in terms of real and full integration. But at the same time Salvini wants to reduce the financial resources for the secondary services, i.e language courses. How does he plan to integrate people without offering them the opportunity of learning the country’s language?

Other dare taken at regional level. As an example, the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, in the north-east of the country, voted to cut the regional fund for migration. Useless to say that The League is ruling the Region.

Salvini tried to convey the message that the majority of asylum seekers coming to Italy have no intention to stay. So, in his logic, investing public money for people who will never be integrated doesn’t make any sense. Summarizing: Salvini is not racist but he doesn’t want foreigners coming, unless they are Italian-speaking and already integrated and successful…

The League at work with neo-fascists

The League is not a left-wing party. Despite the leader of the of the political force had stated that he feels like “an old-style communist”, The League has huge ties with far-right movements. One of those is CasaPound, a neo-fascist political party very active in Italy. In 2014 Mario Borghezio was able to be elected as MEPs in Central Italy thanks to the special alliance between the two parties.

Casa Pound is an illegal reality, but it exists. Its headquarters are situated in a state-owned building squatted in 2003. Since then nobody has taken any action. Now that Salvini is the minister for Home Affairs, he’s in charge of restoring order, but he won’t. Expelling Casa Pound from the illegally squatted building is not a matter of priority, said Salvini.

Not allowed by law, allowed by Salvini: the apology of fascism

Let’s be clear: according to the Italian legislation the apology of fascism is a crime. This is stated in the national Constitution, and reiterated in the Scelba law (1952) and Mancino law (1993). The main source of inspiration for is in Benito Mussolini, and Salvini allows all this. Moreover, the current minister for Family and former MEP, Lorenzo Fontana from The League, proposed to abolish the Mancino law. This legislation has been put in place as a safeguard against the fascist propaganda. 

Salvini had nothing to say about what happened. He didn’t ask his minister to step down. A minister who allows pro-fascist manifestations is nothing but a fascist himself. At the end of November 2018 nearly 2,000 people held a demonstration in Predappio – where Mussolini was born and is buried – to pay tribute to the founder of the Italian fascism. Salvini, already serving as minister for Home affairs, said nothing and did nothing. Conversely, people from the pro-Mussolini demonstration admitted voting for Salvini, seeing in him he “new duce”.

Behind the photogenic face of the good guy is another creature, that could be better understood if we look at who are Salvini’s friends across the EU. Clearly, these are extreme-right parties, anti-migrant and anti-EU forces. The leader of The League needs allies to undermine and ultimately destroy the EU. These include Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National and Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom.

There is little doubt Salvini is against the single currency of the EU. But for the time being, he is not in campaign against the euro. Part of his electorate is from the northern regions of Italy, the richest of the country. A lot of his power base are economically successful, also thanks to the euro and the single market. This is the reason why Salvini is not pushing so hard to exit the eurozone. For the time being. 

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