After the center-right coalition’s victory in Sunday’s elections, Matteo Salvini was quick to rule out an alliance with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, insisting Monday that his party is ready to run Italy.
The League also achieved an important upset victory over coalition partner Forza Italia, meaning that Salvini—and not Silvio Berlusconi—has won the right to name the coalition’s candidate for prime minister, none other than Salvini himself.
“The center right is the coalition that won and that can govern,” 44-year-old Salvini said Monday, adding that “the League won inside the coalition and will be at the helm of the center-right.”
The leader of the League also ruled out any “strange alliances” with other groups, meaning the 5-Star Movement.
The 5-Star Movement received more votes than any other single party in Sunday’s vote, but not more than the center-right coalition. “The 5-Stars have changed their minds too many times and on too many topics, so for me it’s a big ‘no,’” Salvini said.
“Our team is ready,” he said.
Salvini said the pre-electoral agreement between his League and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia was that “the leader of the first party inside the coalition would have the honor of dragging this country out of the swamp.”
“I have not spoken with Berlusconi but the agreement between friends is clear and holds,” he said. “Within the center-right everybody’s happy, there is a coalition that has won and can govern. I won’t comment on the debacle of others, Matteo Renzi’s arrogance has been punished.”
Salvini was also quick to reaffirm his anti-establishment credentials, reading in the elections a clear rejection of the ruling class.
“I am and I will remain a populist, because those who listen to the people are doing their job, whereas the radical chic who disgust workers are no longer wanted by the people.”
The League leader also spoke of an evolving relationship between Italy and the European Union, and touched on the future of the euro.
“We are in Europe and we want a Europe that does few things and does them well, one that recognizes people’s identities, languages, etc. The real enemies of Europe are people like Renzi and Bonino who pretend that everything is fine and good when it isn’t,” he said.
“We will work to modify and remove some European parameters, but regarding the euro I remain convinced that the single currency is destined to end, not because I want it but because the facts, common sense, and the real economy dictate it. And we want to get prepared for that moment.”
Addressing Italy’s economic crisis—it is the only major EU country whose economy has not recovered from 2008—Salvini painted a picture of an Italy that attracts business.
“An Italy that collects lower taxes, that has well-defined times for the court proceedings, and that has less bureaucracy is good news that reassures the markets,” he added.
“It was an extraordinary victory that fills us with pride and responsibility,” Salvini said.
“I see it as a vote for the future,” he said. “While some wanted to speak about ghosts of the past during the electoral campaign, the Italians have chosen the future.”
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