Italy’s leading eurosceptic might run for head of the European Commission

Italy's eurosceptic Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is considering running for the presidency of the European Commission if a coalition of nationalist groups wins the next EU elections, he said in an interview on Thursday.

Italy's leading eurosceptic might run for head of the European Commission
Italy's Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

“It's true, friends from different European countries have asked me, suggested it,” Salvini told the Repubblica daily. “It is nice that they see me as a point of reference for the people's defence, even outside Italy.”

“We will see, I'll think about it,” added Salvini, an ally of French far-right party leader Marine Le Pen.

Salvini, 45, became leader of the far-right League in 2013. He transformed the flagging secessionist party into a nationalist force under the slogan “Italians first”.

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After stealing the limelight from coalition partner Silvio Berlusconi to win 17 percent in the March general election, he teamed up with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement to govern.

The League, which rails often and loudly against Brussels and migrants, now has over 30 percent of voter intentions in the polls.

The president of the European Commission is appointed by member heads of state on a proposal from the majority party or group in the European Parliament.

Salvini is a regular critic of the Commission and its president Jean-Claude Juncker, who has warned Italy over its plans for big spending in next year's budget.

“We will not change a dot in the budget,” Salvini said on Thursday. 

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Photo: Patrick Herzog/AFP