It looks like the election campaign has not ended since this government was formed
When Mr. Salvini and Mr. Di Maio signed the government agreement on 18 May 2018, nobody was expecting a build-up of tension among the ruling majority. Many supporters, both from the 5 Star Movement and the Northern League, who were celebrating a supposed new golden age, are now facing a harsh reality: the differences between the two governing parties are irreconcilable. Almost a year has passed, and many issues became bones of contention. It is time to go through the most discussed topics that are still drawing the public opinion’s focus.
The Diciotti case
It is not difficult to remember the first burning issue that split the government in August 2018, after the Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, prevented migrants from landing at the harbour of Catania, against any international convention concerning rescuing people at sea. Legal authorities charged the Northern League’s leader with aggravated abduction but, due to the immunity granted as a senator, permission to proceed was required in order to pass judgment on him. Although the 5 Star Movement has always promoted the repeal of any immunity, they granted permission. As a consequence, Salvini could not be brought before a court. Many 5 Star Movement supporters started to dump on the party, as one of their landmark cornerstones was denied in order to grant life to the government.
The TAV file
The two governing parties showed their contradictions when they discussed the high-speed line project from Lyon to Turin. On the one hand, Mr. Di Maio’s group claimed that the large project would be completely useless and harmful for the environment. On the other, the Northern League was campaigning for and supporting the TAV, considering the line a strategic move for the country. After the ridiculous charade of the cost-benefit analysis, which highlighted its worthlessness, the government “decided not to decide,” managing to secure a one-year deferral. Who knows whether the two parties will still be together next year…
The Verona meeting about family
On March 29, a controversial event kicked off in Verona: the international, pro-life and anti-gay conference that welcomed supporters from all over the world. Even though many ministers from the Northern League joined the event, among them Mr. Salvini, the Prime Minister Mr. Conte refused the cabinet’s patronage, claiming that the government’s inspiring principle is “respecting people and their dignity, regardless of their sexual preference.”
While Conte’s speech seemed like a way to get back votes from people on the left, many Italians appreciated the 5 Star Movement’s firmness on fundamental rights. In fact, its leader Mr. Di Maio deeply criticized the Verona Congress, blaming its bigotry and medieval perceptions. It appeared clear that the newly liberal-minded Mr. Di Maio and the conservative attitude of Mr. Salvini are too far apart to find common ground on this topic.
The Siri case
The affair became public on April 18, when newspapers reported that the under-secretary of Transport and the economic counsellor for the Northern League, Armando Siri, was charged for corruption. According to the prosecuting attorney, he took bribes of 30,000 euros in order to add a rule benefiting the wind power’s activity of Vito Nicastri, a Sicilian entrepreneur close to the mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro.
Right away, the Northern League rallied around the under-secretary, claiming his innocence. Mr. Salvini himself took to the pitch in order to defend his counsellor, but the 5 Star Movement did not want to miss the opportunity to campaign against the governing ally, stating that Armando Siri should resign. According to Mr. Di Maio, in fact, the accusation is so serious that “a backward step is necessary, until Siri’s culpability is found.”
The yellow party (5 Star Movement) is pushing this situation, as Siri, defined by the Interior Minister as “straight and honest”, had already plead guilty for fraudulent bankruptcy. The situation is in progress, as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced yesterday that he is going to propose the withdrawal of his competencies in the next Ministers’ council.
What conclusion can be drawn?
Certainly, on one side, the Northern League has enjoyed its time governing, as it is boosting its popularity throughout the country. On the other side, after a first moment of confusion and subjection, the 5 Star Movement is increasing its typical angry tones, blaming the Northern League especially for the Verona Congress and the Siri affair. For Mr. Di Maio, the change was vital because the yellow party has lost more than 10% of support. It looks like the election campaign has not ended since this government was formed. Now, with the European elections approaching, it is going to be a tremendous and watershed event in the life of the government and, maybe, the ruling majority.