Salvini: Being Called a Populist ‘Is a Compliment’

Italian senator, head of the Italian far-right League (Lega) party Matteo Salvini delivers a speech on stage during the party's annual rally in Pontida on September 15, 2019. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP) (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

As his party continues to dominate Italian national polls, League leader Matteo Salvini rejected allegations of fascist allusions, saying that fascism is dead — and that to be called a populist “is a compliment”.

The former Italian Interior Minister was asked in an interview with French magazine Le Point about his upcoming rally on the 19th of October in Rome, with some comparing it to former fascist leader Benito Mussolini’s 1922 march on Rome, which occurred in the same month.

“We will fill a square in Rome, San Giovanni, where the left is often found. It is also known as a concert venue,” Salvini said.

“Fascism, like communism, is a dead idea. These are phenomena to be studied, but neither of them will return,” he added.

When asked how he defines himself politically, Salvini stated: “I believe that the left, right, fascist, and communist labels are outdated. I call myself Italian, neither right nor left.”

“I do not criticise the PD (Democratic Party) because it is of the left, but because it depends on the will of Brussels, while for the League, the Italian interest is the priority,” Salvini said.

“For me, ‘populist’ is a compliment, it means being close to the people,” he added.

Salvini’s popularity with the people continues to dominate opinion polls. A survey released by EMG Acqua shows the League with 31.8 per cent support compared to the two ruling coalition parties, the Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party, which each polled under 20 per cent.

The League leader also enjoys a 39 per cent confidence rating, ahead of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte who received 35 per cent. Five Star leader Luigi di Maio and Democratic Party Nicola Zingaretti scored 25 and 24 per cent respectively.

Since early September, polls have shown widespread opposition to the current leftist coalition, with an IPSOS poll showing that not only did just 34 per cent of Italians approve of the current government, more Italians preferred the former League-Five Star coalition.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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