Italy’s Salvini Counters Euro Establishment ‘Warnings’ to New Populist Government

Matteo Salvini
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

European establishment politicians have issues “warnings” to Italy’s populist leaders to maintain the status quo in relations with the European Union (EU), provoking an invitation from the League’s Matteo Salvini to mind their own business.

On Sunday, the French Minister for the Economy Bruno Le Maire warned that the stability of the eurozone will be “put at risk” if the next Italian government does not respect the agreements of prior administrations.

“If the new government does not respect its commitments on debt, on the deficit, but also on the consolidation of the banks, the whole financial stability of the eurozone will be threatened,” Le Maire said during a television broadcast.

“We either reduce economic divergences, or the euro will be weakened or risk disappearing,” the minister declared.

Asked about the possibility of forming a populist government in Italy, Le Maire said that Italy has a responsibility not only to its own citizens but to all of Europe.

“Italians must understand that the future of Italy is in Europe and not elsewhere, but there are rules to be obeyed,” he said.

League leader Matteo Salvini, whose sovereigntist campaign motto was “Prima gli italiani” (Italy First), was quick to invite the minister to keep his nose out of Italian affairs.

“A French minister ‘warns’ the future government: don’t change anything or there will be problems,” Salvini tweeted in response.

“Another unacceptable invasion of territory. I didn’t ask for confidence votes to continue on the path of poverty, precariousness and immigration,” he said. “Italy First!”

In a separate tweet, Salvini continued his advice to the French.

“Let the French ministers take care of France, we will take care of Italy!” he said.

“And let their souls be at peace: we will do the opposite of what preceding administrations have done.”

On Monday, Manfred Weber, the German leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament added his own threats to Italy’s populist government.

“You are playing with fire because Italy is heavily indebted,” Weber said, adding that the new government’s “irrational or populist actions” could well “provoke a new euro crisis.”

“In everyday life, there is no alternative but to work closely together and in collaboration with our neighbors in Europe,” Weber continued. “I hope that people will end up realizing that populism spreads many lies and offers no constructive response.”

As an addendum, Weber assured his hearers that he still respected the Italians’ “electoral outcome,” a declaration that couldn’t help but ring hollow.

Once again Matteo Salvini responded on Twitter:

“After the French, today it’s the Germans’ turn to make threats: ‘You are playing with fire because Italy is heavily in debt,’ says Manfred Weber.”

“He can worry about Germany, and we will take care of the welfare of the Italians!” he said.

The responses of the two European politicians this week underscore the deep divide between populists and establishment leaders, who seem determined to do all they can to thwart the designs of the former.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter 

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