“The wind of change has crossed the Alps,” he said on Twitter after meeting French protest leader Christophe Chalencon.
Oggi con @ale_dibattista abbiamo fatto un salto in Francia e abbiamo incontrato il leader dei gilet gialli Cristophe Chalençon e i candidati alle elezioni europee della lista RIC di Ingrid Levavasseur.
Il vento del cambiamento ha valicato le Alpi. pic.twitter.com/G8E0ypLalX
— Luigi Di Maio (@luigidimaio) February 5, 2019
Di Maio and his populist coalition partner, hard-right League head Matteo Salvini, have thrown their support behind the “yellow vest” protesters roiling neighbouring France.
“We have many shared points of view and values which place citizens, social rights, direct democracy and the environment at the centre of many battles,” Di Maio's office said in a statement.
The M5S leader and Chalencon were joined by “yellow vest” candidates for the European parliament elections in May, who were invited to a follow up meeting in Rome “in the following weeks”.
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Di Maio has denounced the French government for protecting the elite and the privileged, saying “a new Europe is being born of the “yellow vests”, of movements, of direct democracy” ahead of European parliamentary elections in May.
“Yellow vests, do not weaken!” he said last month, offering French protesters the use of the movement's so-called Rousseau platform to improve organisation and “draw up an electoral programme”.
“Yellow vest” protests against fuel taxes began in rural and small-town France in late November, but then mushroomed into a wider revolt during December against the policies and governing style of Macron.
Italy's M5S-League coalition in June became the European Union's first populist-only government, taking over from the centre-left Democratic Party. The ruling coalition has had numerous spats with Macron and with the European Commission in Brussels since coming to power, notably over its big-spending budget to apply populist measures.
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Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP