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‘Investigate yourself’: Mayor of Naples slams ‘policeman’ Salvini

Naples Mayor hits out at Interior Minister's fondness for wearing police uniforms and tells him to investigate his own party's misuse of public money.

'Investigate yourself': Mayor of Naples slams ‘policeman’ Salvini
Mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris. Photo: MARIO LAPORTA/AFP

The outspoken Mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris yesterday attacked Interior Minister and Deputy PM Matteo Salvini's “great sense of opportunism” and accused him of exploiting the image of the police force.

“Minister Salvini recently loves to wear sweatshirts, jackets, and various badges of the State Police,” he wrote on Facebook.

“I’m not talking about occasionally wearing a hat, a uniform or a badge on an official state visit,” he added, accusing Salvini instead of “exploiting” the image of the police force.

Salvini’s habit of often wearing the jackets and even full uniforms of Italy’s emergency services for press conferences and photo opportunities has also drawn anger from the country’s fire brigade.

Salvini takes a selfie for social media wearing the uniform of the Italian fire brigade. Photo: Matteo Salvini/Twitter

“I don't rule out the hypothesis that, in Salvini's delusion of omnipotence, he really thinks he has become a policeman, a sort of political head of the police,” Mayor Luigi de Magistris wrote. “I could suggest some investigative paths for him to pursue.”

“Firstly, investigate yourself as the leader the League to find the 49 million euros that, according to the judiciary, were illegally taken away from the Italian people.”

He was referring to a case of fraudulent use of party funds in which Umberto Bossi, founder of the League (previously known as the Northern League) and the party's former treasurer were convicted and forced to step out of the public eye.

READ ALSO: Italy's League agrees to pay back missing millions, slowly

Naples’ mayor has been among the local politicians critical of Salvini and his party’s policies since the far-right League came to power last year, as part of a ruling coalition with the populist Five Star Movement.

The mayor, an anti-mafia prosecutor elected by the city in 2011, most recently clashed with the Interior Minister after he joined several other Italian mayors in refusing to implement parts of the government's controversial security decree, saying they were “unconstitutional”.

Naples also defied Salvini’s orders to close Italian ports to rescue ships, recently saying its port was open to Sea Watch, an NGO ship that had been stuck at sea and unable to dock with 32 migrants on board.

Salvini previously dismissed the mayors' criticism and insinuated that thse who disagreed with parts of his decree were benefiting from the migrant reception business, tweeting: “Certain mayors look back fondly on the good old times of immigration, but for them the party is over!”

Salvini continues to repeat that the ports are closed, claiming yesterday that closing ports saves lives.

The Mayor has a history of refusing to follow government orders after defying a 2014 ban on registering gay marriages that had taken place abroad. Italy today still does not legally recognise gay marriages.

De Magistris also accused Salvini of “political thought characterised by racial discrimination and xenophobia.”

He said that Salvini had a “great sense of opportunism which is used unscrupulously against the weakest.”

READ ALSO:


 

ITALIAN ELECTIONS

Doubts rise over ‘loose cannon’ Salvini after Italy’s election

Italian anti-immigrant leader Matteo Salvini was disappointed on Monday at his party's result in general elections but pledged to work with Giorgia Meloni, who triumphed, to form a government.

Doubts rise over 'loose cannon' Salvini after Italy's election

Whether Salvini would keep his word – or survive politically long enough to do so – was not clear, after his anti-immigrant League party dropped below the 10 percent threshold at Sunday’s vote.

This was a sharp decrease after the party swept to office with 17 percent of the vote in 2018 – since when it has been eclipsed by Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy.

EXPLAINED: What will a far-right government mean for Italy?

A glum Salvini, who has clashed with Meloni on a range of policies, not least her stance on Russia and the war in Ukraine, told reporters that winning just nine percent had been a blow.

It was “not a number I wanted or worked for”, he said.

Salvini added that he had “gone to bed fairly pissed off but woke up ready to go” and was now “looking on the bright side”.

Meloni “was good. We will work together for a long time”, he promised.

Leader of Italy's liberal-conservative party Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi, leader of Italy's conservative party Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni and leader of Italy's far-right League party, Matteo Salvini acknowledge supporters at the end of a joint rally against the government on October 19, 2019 in Rome.

Italy’s right-wing coalition, consisting of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, Salvini’s League and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, has promised to slash taxes and put ‘Italians first’. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

The League may now have to battle to ensure its priorities are not sidelined in Meloni’s government programme, analysts said.

And while ex-interior minister Salvini has repeatedly said he wants his former job back, it is looking increasingly unlikely to happen.

“It won’t be an easy relationship. It’s likely that (Salvini) will be given a more marginal role in the government than he wants,” Sofia Ventura, political sciences professor at Bologna University, told the foreign press association in Rome.

“The result… throws into question Matteo Salvini’s leadership” of his own party, she said, adding that there were those within the League who thought they would be better off without the “loose cannon”.

READ ALSO: Meloni, Salvini, Berlusconi: The key figures in Italy’s likely new government

He said Meloni had benefited from being the only leader to stay outside the coalition formed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi in February 2021.

For the League, being part of that administration “was not easy”, he said, but insisted “I would do it again.”

‘Dangerous when cornered’

Meloni secured around 26 percent of the vote in Sunday’s poll, putting her on course to become the first woman to serve as Italian prime minister.

She campaigned as part of a coalition including Salvini’s League and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which won around eight percent.

Italian politics is notoriously unstable, with nearly 70 governments since 1946, and there were concerns disagreements with Salvini may precipitate a fresh crisis.

Lorenzo Pregliasco, co-founder of the YouTrend polling site, said Italian party leaders proved “dangerous” when they felt cornered.

The League head “might not create any problems in the short term” but “watch out for the Salvini factor, if he survives politically as a leader”.

Salvini however said that after years of unwieldy coalitions, Italy finally had “a government chosen by its citizens, with a clear majority” in both houses of parliament.

And he hoped it could “go for at least five years straight, without changes, without upheavals, focusing on things to do”.

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