Matteo Salvini no longer has the wind in its sails -
Mauro Scrobogna / AP / SIPA
Until the summer of 2019, Matteo Salvini was the essential of Italian politics, overwhelming in the media and imposing the themes of his party, the League, on the government.
Since then, the politician seems to be losing momentum, a feeling reinforced by his trial, which opened this Saturday before being postponed.
So what happened to make Matteo Salvini lose so much credit?
Is it finished?
"The hardest part is not to reach the top, but to stay there", it seems.
If Matteo Salvini ignored this saying, his political career is illustrating it for him.
Formerly a strong man of Italy, capable of making rain and shine in the government with his double hat of Vice-President of the Council and Minister of the Interior from June 2018 to September 2019, the troublemaker of (the extreme -) right and the leader of the League seems to be marking time.
Finding all the more ferocious this Saturday, the day of his trial for "abuse of power and kidnapping of people", when he had blocked, in the summer of 2019, 116 migrants aboard an Italian coast guard ship for several days.
Admittedly, the trial was postponed this morning, a meager breath of fresh air for a man who seems out of breath.
Nevertheless, between this trial and the rout of the regional elections, the political form of Matteo Salvini is not in good shape.
Sin of pride and lack of concrete
How to explain it?
“Matteo Salvini made himself known by his extremely strong and violent statements, but it ran out of steam due to his lack of concrete results compared to his promises.
The Italians ended up saying to themselves that it was very nice, his occupation of social networks or his thunderous speeches, but that in fact, there was not much happening, "said Ludmila Acone, doctor in history of the Italy.
For Marc Lazar, university professor in history and political sociology, specialist in Italy, the end of the ascent begins in the summer of 2019 with a sin of pride.
With his historic results in the Europeans and his record popularity rating, Matteo Salvini asks to dissolve the chambers of the Italian Parliament, to arrogate to himself even more power.
Failed bet since it will on the contrary lose its place in government.
Marc Lazar explains: “This directly put him in a weakened position, since he no longer had as much power and above all a media presence, no longer belonging to the government.
However, its primary strength came from its media coverage.
He is in constant campaign for himself and his party.
An anti-migrant discourse that no longer passes
Then Matteo Salvini was dubbed in his dear themes by better than him.
Giorgia Meloni, president of the Brothers of Italy (right-wing sovereignist party).
Ludmila Acone, always: “She speaks the word of the hard right with more subtlety and political spirit.
Even if her party was born out of a desire to recreate a fascist movement and that at the base, its members are very nostalgic for Mussolini, she is careful not to call him back every four mornings.
And in terms of influence, where Matteo Salvini has lost some, Giorgia Meloni has gleaned some, becoming president of the Party of European Conservatives and Reformists.
“She applies a harsh but more concrete discourse, develops Ludmila Acone, and makes fewer comments on migrants.
Because this is also one of Matteo Salvini's current problems: the monolithic theme of his speeches, migrants, is much less promising in times of health and economic crisis for Italy.
"It is not that the Italians have come to appreciate migrants, tempers Marc Lazar.
But it is very far from being their property now.
Their fundamental concerns are health and concern for work, themes that Matteo Salvini is less concerned with.
Touched but not sunk
And that might not even be why the coronavirus hurt him the most.
Throughout the crisis, Matteo Salvini was "totally irresponsible, demagogic, inconsistent, and he has lost a lot of his aura", according to the history professor.
Even after the peak of the epidemic, his direct criticism of the financial support validated by the European Union was frowned upon.
Result, a party at half mast and internal criticism.
So, is Matteo Salvini finished?
Not so fast.
Already, we will have to wait for the result of his trial, underlines Ludmila Acone: "If he wins and is acquitted, he will play his role of victim of the system, of political martyr who only defended his country and its borders and who was judged for it, ”she prophesies.
Politically, if he is currently overtaken by Giorgia Meloni, it will be easy for him to find a convergence between the two parties to get his foot back in the stirrup.
For Marc Lazar, the strong man of the League still has strengths, a fortiori his party: "It remains the leading party in Italy by far, and the economic and social crisis to come always benefits this kind of movement. .
Matteo Salvini is therefore not finished, and it would be very hasty to bury him.
But it is clearly weakened, and is unable to bounce back for the moment.
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