ROME — Matteo Salvini is planning his comeback, and wants to form an alliance with Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and the leaders of Israel and Brazil.
The leader of the far-right League party and former Italian interior minister believes he’ll be prime minister in 2020 and wants to improve relations with EU partners when that happens — at the same time as pushing his “international front.”
Salvini, whose party has been at over 30 percent in the polls for the past year, pulled the plug on the coalition between the League and the populist 5Star Movement in August, hoping to trigger a snap election in which he would boost his party’s fortunes. But the 5Stars formed a surprise alliance with the center-left Democratic Party (PD) led by the same prime minister who headed the previous coalition, Giuseppe Conte.
Now, the Euroskeptic Salvini believes his comeback is close as the new coalition struggles to agree on crucial policy issues and reboot the country’s stagnating economy.
“I am using this time in opposition to forge new alliances and expand my network,” Salvini told Italian daily Libero in an interview published Monday.
“Conte’s new government has already lasted too long. I met entrepreneurs, factory workers, young people, immigrants too … They are fed up with them,” Salvini said.
Salvini said he plans to focus on improving relations with Germany and France once back in government, and believes he can drive change in Brussels.
“The EU is managed by lobbies and is ever more distant from the people, but things are changing and Brussels sees our future center-right government as an element of greater stability compared to [the current Italian government],” he said.
“But it’s not just about Paris and Berlin … I want to be part of an international front that includes Donald Trump, who will be re-elected, Boris Johnson, [Brazil’s] Jair Bolsonaro and [Israel’s] Benjamin Netanyahu … These are all leaders that the left criminalizes but have all been overwhelmingly supported by the people,” he said.
Salvini also used the interview to attack the 5Stars for being too close to China, saying: “They fear democratically elected presidents in the United States and in Britain but they aren’t wary of China’s Xi Jinping.”
He also questioned the multiple visits that Beppe Grillo — a former comedian who co-founded the 5Stars — paid to the Chinese ambassador in Rome this month, and the 5Stars’ push to allow Huawei to develop Italy’s 5G network.
The Italian government has been plagued by infighting of late. Last week, Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti, from the 5Stars, resigned after failing to receive the €3 billion in school funding he had demanded for 2020. Several 5Stars lawmakers have left in the past couple of months and in October former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi left the PD to form a new party.
Salvini hopes that will play in his favor in two crucial regional elections next month.
“Voters will decide my future as soon as they get a chance to express their will. I am studying to become prime minister,” he said.
ITALY NATIONAL PARLIAMENT ELECTION POLL OF POLLS
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