A failed kingmaker in Italy with a terrible idea

Matteo Salvini, the Italian populist leader of the so-called Lega (this party was known as the Northern League until Salvini decided to play with the big boys) has come out of the conclave for the Presidency of the Republic with broken bones. He can now add another defeat to the roster of his terrible electoral showings. The great electors gathered in the chamber of the Italian parliament decided to avoid the landmine of a candidate of the rightist coalition sponsored by Salvini and re-elected Sergio Mattarella, the outgoing president. Having failed in his role of kingmaker, Matteo Salvini — the same leader who played empty games with Russian President Putin and assorted leaders of the illiberal democracies of central/eastern Europe — has come up with the crazily concocted proposal of importing an American political creation. You will never guess: it is the Republican Party.Listen to him: Italy needs a center right federation modeled after the American Republican Party. In a bout of ludicrous contemplation of the American scene, Salvini is adamant that a center right federation that supports the Draghi government “will open up a political space where different sensibilities will find their place in a political culture that is an alternative to the left.”For sure, the populist leader is not an ignoramus who has never heard of a certain authoritarian leader by the name of Trump in the United States. Surely, he would like to have the power and the following of The Donald to satisfy his thirst for taking over control of the Italian government. He claims a right to such role by “changing the center right and finally Italy itself.” Americans know precious little about Salvini’s illusions of power, his unsavory reputation and his flim-flam proclamations of a new Italy “anchored by liberal, Christian and civil libertarian principles.” Surprise, surprise, such principles were invoked by another disgraceful practitioner of Italian politics, former premier Silvio Berlusconi, another big time loser in the recent race for the presidency. In April 2015, Berlusconi exalted the same sacrosanct values but anchored them to the European movement that “constitutes the foundation of the European Popular Party.”Lo and behold, Salvini made a name for himself by vilifying all that the European institutions – mostly the European Commission – have tried to achieve. He repeatedly showed an intense bromance with undesirable European leaders such as Viktor Orban in Hungary and Jaroslav Kaczynski in Poland, who have suppressed or severely limited basic freedoms in their countries.Matteo Salvini may have not met Trump but one thing is clear: when he was in a coalition government as Interior Minister he admired the Trump administration’s stance on immigration and protectionism. There is more that makes him a Trump’s acolyte.Salvini went as far as saying that “parts of the U.S. had more votes than voters,” thus supporting conspiracy theories. The question to be put to sensible Americans who are not mesmerized by Trump’s big lie is simple: do you want such a loser (Salvini has always lost elections) to be an emulator of American Republicanism with all that his loathsome reputation entails?What happened in Rome in the past few days has shown conclusively that Matteo Salvini is indeed a loser and that the re-election of Sergio Mattarella to the presidency was the result of an agreement within a wide majority that happens to be the one that supports the present Prime Minister Draghi, a man who is deeply devoted to the Atlantic and European ideals. There is a reason why the rightist coalition headed by Salvini could not prevail with the roughly 450 votes that it boasted. Italians are not ready for that kind of right and by the same token, for an Italian version of an American party devoted to the autocracy of one man who is the negation of representative democracy.

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