‘Credo’ – Will Italians believe in Matteo Salvini?

By Vincenzo Caccioppoli

‘CREDO’ (“I believe”) is the new slogan that Matteo Salvini, the Northern League leader, has chosen for the crucial electoral campaign in Italy.

It’s a simple and clear slogan that exemplifies his current thinking. Salvini firmly believes that he can not only win the elections in his centre-right coalition, which polling suggests has a very large advantage over the centre-left, but also that of being able to prevail as the first party and thus go to Palazzo Chigi (Chigi Palace), the official residence of the Italian Prime Minister.

His task is certainly not easy – Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia is largely at the top of all polls with an average of 24 per cent and the league is instead at 11 per cent, despite its momentum.

The story of Salvini is also quite controversial. He took a party which seemed destined to disappear despite its large regional prevalence, and in a few years led them to the historic milestone of 34 per cent in the European elections of 2014.

He participated in the first Conte government with the Five Star Movement, and after just over a year of opposition following its collapse, his party returned to the government to support Mario Draghi. Their standing has since collapsed in the eyes of many Italians, but this election is a chance to revive Lega Nord’s fortunes.

His politics has always been at the centre of the criticisms of his many opponents for his harsh and incisive tones.

But now with the new elections at the gates, Italy has witnessed a radical change in his posture and positions of him – a more calm and moderate tone, and he is careful to highlight the problems of the people rather than the controversy and the clash with the opponents.

Salvini is more moderate, more reflective, less excessive in his exits.

In recent days he has proposed a truce in the electoral camp to approve all together a new decree against expensive energy in light of the growing crisis across Italy and the continent.

As a witty politician as he is, he has understood that now in such a delicate phase it is not the moment of controversy and excessive tones, but that of reflection and thoughtfulness.

When asked if he would agree, in the event of a centre-right victory, that Meloni would become Prime Minister, he simply replied that it is not yet said, because he is convinced that in the end the League will be the first party in the coalition and that so the role will be up to him.

The opponents accuse him of his past ties with Putin, but he does not reply, and indeed proposes to arrive at a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

In short, Salvini appears to be new leader who seems ready to take the big leap to lead the country – but it remains to be seen if the Italians will want to trust him.

Vincenzo Caccioppoli is a Rome-based journalist focusing on international politics. He is the editor of the Farefuturo foundation in international politics.

Featured Image: European Parliament @ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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