Italian Elections: Salvini May Return as Interior Minister to Stop Illegal Immigration

LAMPEDUSA, ITAY - AUGUTST 03: Matteo Salvini, former Minister of the Interior and Leader of the right-wing League Party speaks to the members of press during his visit within the election campaign in Italyâs southernmost island of Lampedusa on August 03, 2022. Migration reception center on the island with the …
Valeria Ferraro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Italian populist League leader Matteo Salvini has called for the country’s next Interior Minister to be a member of his party, citing the successes he had tackling illegal immigration when he had the job.

The League (Lega) leader, who served as Italy’s Interior Minister in 2018 and 2019, visited the island of Lampedusa earlier this week, which has been inundated and overwhelmed by illegal migrant arrivals in recent months.

Salvini stated that he wanted to close migrant reception centres and, instead, create centres abroad in North Africa to process asylum claims — similar to a policy championed by the British government through its deal with Rwanda that was finalised earlier this year.

While Salvini did not state outright that he wanted to return as interior Minister after national elections on September 25th, he did say that he would like a member of his party to assume the role.

“I count on a man or a woman from the League at the Viminale [Interior Ministry] because we wrote the security decrees. I think, with regard to immigration, that in 2018 and 2019, Italy was a safer, more protected, more European country. I will go where the Italians send me,” Salvini said.

Salvini has campaigned on illegal immigration since the start of the national election campaign following the fall of the technocratic “unity” government headed by former European Central Bank boss Mario Draghi last month.

Earlier this week, Salvini stated that just 15 per cent of the illegal immigrants who arrived in Italy last year gained refugee status and that the majority had their applications denied.

He also noted that in July of this year Italy saw more illegal migrant arrivals than the entire year of 2019.

During his visit to Lampedusa, Salvini commented on the state of the island’s overcrowded migrant reception centre, saying: “I would like this centre to be closed in a few months. There is a lot of money that could be spent in another way.”

“I want to remember with pride that with the security decrees the deaths at sea were halved. It is clear that the more people leave [for Italy]…  the more people die,” he added.

Salvini’s tough policies on illegal migration were indeed credited with not only reducing illegal immigration but reducing drownings in the Mediterranean Sea as well.

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


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