Italian populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s upcoming attendance at a pro-family congress has provoked criticism from members of the Five Star Movement and potential conflict in their ruling coalition.
The Lega leader announced he would be attending the World Congress of Families, a pro-family event in Verona held by the US-based International Organisation for the Family, at the end of March but members of the Five Star Movement (M5S) have labelled the conference as having antiquated views on women, Il Giornale reports.
Salvini has even received criticism from the M5S leader Luigi Di Maio who distanced himself from the conference saying, “We have another idea of the world.”
M5S Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede went even further saying that participants of the conservative conference were, “moving the hands of the clock on the concept of women back a few centuries.”
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Conservative Lega Family Minister Lorenzo Fontana, who once described his support for Identitarian ideas, will also be attending the conference.
Fontana has been a long-time advocate of increasing the birthrate in Italy and even co-authored a book on demographic decline entitled, “The Empty Cradle of Civilization: The Origins of the Crisis,” that dismisses mass migration.
Both Fontana and Salvini have been behind several pro-family policies including restoring “mother” and “father” to future Italian identification forms rather than “parent one” and “parent two,” as well as a policy aimed at giving free land to families with at least three children to repopulate rural areas.
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Salvini reacted to the M5S criticism saying, “It makes me incredulous that talking about the family provokes controversy,” and added, “They attacked me because I go to the congress of families, as if one were going to an initiative of drug pushers.”
“I want to support those who bring children into the world,” he said.
The new conflict comes as the two parties have been at odds over the TAV project, a high-speed tunnel to France with the M5S urging for the project, that is set to cost 8.6-billion euro, to be scrapped.
While Salvini and Lega have also seen massive growth in popularity in the polls, the M5S has slumped in recent months after a series of bad results in regional elections and now polls more than ten points below Lega at 23.2 percent.