Amid Italy Coalition Talks, Populist Leader Blasts EU for ‘Unacceptable’ Immigration Interference

Getty Images

The leaders of Italy’s two largest political parties remain in negotiations over the form and direction of a potential coalition government despite assurances made on Sunday that an agreement was just hours away, while European Union leaders in Brussels dictate that Italy should not pursue any radical policy changes.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-mass migration populist Lega, and Luigi Di Maio, leader of the anti-establishment populist Five Star Alliance, have been locked in round after round of talks about forming a new government which has been claimed would be a nightmare scenario for the EU — but negotiations appear to have stalled.

The leaders spoke to Italian President Sergio Mattarella Sunday and promised a decision on the next Italian Prime Minister for his approval — certain to be neither party leader but a third, less contentious choice — but as of Tuesday morning, the two parties seem to have drifted further from an agreement.

Italian newspaper il Giornale — otherwise highly supportive of Salvini’s populist Lega party — declared the delay the work of amateurs, noting that new discussions could add days more onto Italy being without a functioning government. The paper, in particular, pointed out the differences between the parties in the key areas of policy, including taxation, immigration, justice, and the European Union.

To complicate matters, the European Union has also made itself known in the formation of the new government, warning the potential coalition partners against pursuing the policies they were elected over. Lega in particular wishes to radically cut taxes, including VAT and excise duties, but EU commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis spoke out Tuesday morning to tell Italy they must conform with EU demands.

The vice-president told the country he expected Italy to keep to the European Union’s plan, no matter which government was elected.

One of the most notable areas of interference by the European Union is over the matter of mass migration. After EU Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned against Italy changing its border policy from the last government — which saw the nation acting as one of the main points of ingress for illegal migrants and asylum seekers to the continent — Lega leader Salvini hit back.

Salvini said Tuesday: “From Europe, we have the umpteenth unacceptable interference by unelected officials.

“We have received and maintained too much. Now is the time for legality, security and push-backs,” he concluded in remarks reported by ANSA.

Both parties in the potential coalition arrangement have agreed to crack down on immigration to Italy, but exactly how and to what extent is believed to be one of the areas still up for agreement.

Italy has a long and bitter history with European Union interference in their politics. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was toppled in 2011 as a former European Union commissioner and economics professor Mario Monti was installed as his “technocratic” replacement after the Union decided the country had not been run to their satisfaction.

Monti was appointed a life senator by the Italian president in order to make him eligible to be the prime minister, the office normally being held by an elected politician. The change was made days after a similar coup in Greece, where a former chairman of the European Central Bank was installed as prime minister.

Follow Oliver Lane on Facebook, Twitter: or e-mail: olane[at]


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.