The right-wing Italian deputy prime minister wants to spread his domestic success to other European countries.
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister and leader of the right-wing League, promised Sunday to expand the League’s Italian success into a new EU-wide nationalist bloc for the 2019 European Parliament election.
At a large outdoor rally of party members and supporters in the northern Italian town of Pontida, Salvini said that the League’s ideas represent the “last hope for this Europe to stay alive.”
Salvini arrived at the rally in T-shirt bearing his own image, before giving a speech and drinking cocktails with his delighted supporters.
Salvini said the League would govern Italy for the next 30 years, Reuters reported, and that in 2019, he would use his Italian playbook to upend the May European Parliament election.
“I am thinking about a League of the Leagues of Europe, bringing together all the free and sovereign movements that want to defend their people and their borders,” Salvini said, adding that League supporters needed to play the role of “liberating” Europeans.
Others — most notably France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherland’s Geert Wilders — have tried and failed to unite nationalists and Euroskeptics.
The highest profile Euroskeptic MEP, Nigel Farage, focused on getting the United Kingdom out of the EU rather than building a pan-EU movement.
Of the 751 members of the current European Parliament, 151 identify as Euroskeptic, and sit mostly in two competing groups: the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group (to which the League’s governing coalition partner, the 5Star Movement, belongs), and Europe of Nations and Freedoms group (to which the League belongs).