Commentary. A Minister of the Interior, whether from the right or from the left, should be grounded in the actual facts—otherwise he is nothing more than a Minister of Propaganda.

Lega-5 Stars are playing a dangerous game of Risk

President Sergio Mattarella should be listened to when he says Salvini is spouting nonsense and needs to get his act together.

“The number of landings has diminished. We must not succumb to emotionality.” These were the words of the head of state, followed by a detailed and accurate set of numbers and percentages. Mattarella’s remarks, made during his trip to the Baltic States, are saying what all the left-wing opposition and all the organizations working in the field have been repeating nearly every day since the start of the troublesome era of the 5 Star-Lega government: refugee landings are already down 85 percent.

The first observation that Mattarella’s remarks suggest is a very simple one: a Minister of the Interior, whether from the right or from the left, should be grounded in the actual facts—otherwise he is nothing more than a Minister of Propaganda, with all the nefarious implications of such a role that we know from history. Salvini, however, upped the stakes even further, asking for a meeting with the president to complain about the investigation of his party on the matter of having to return €50 million. For him, this is “an attack on democracy,” which just means he doesn’t like the image of the Lega as thieves in the slightest.

The alarm raised by the head of state regarding the government’s current policy on immigration and the Schengen area is more than justified, considering the danger of engaging in such a high-stakes game of Risk (especially on the border with Austria). If the one who is causing problems is playing dirty, as is the case with the Lega leader, then he, as the one to blame for the president’s concerns, should feel the sting of being put in his place. But this apparently works only in theory, because nothing and no one seems to be able to stop Salvini—as evidenced by his attack on INPS president Boeri on precisely the theme of immigration. Boeri ended up threatened with immediate removal by the chameleon-like chief demagogue of a government that speaks in one voice on this issue.

The 5 Stars seem to be satisfied that the refugee landings have declined and that the migrant-rescuing NGOs have been banned. They could have done without such a supposedly great victory. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem that the polls are giving them much to be relieved about.

For his part, Fico, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, fulfilled the role of being a critical voice against the current policies on immigration, showing independence from the government—but the response from Palazzo Chigi dismissed him as an ordinary citizen expressing nothing more than his personal opinion.

However, while it is easier for them to raise their voices and show firmness against the weakest and most defenseless of opponents, i.e. the immigrants, it will not be so easy when it comes to the economy and labor, where another game of Risk is playing out in the social arena between the League and the M5S, which is already causing headaches as we wait for the autumn weather. After the decree that rhetorically touted the “dignity of workers,” the battle is on again over the vouchers (as a means of payment for temporary work) that the Lega has been loudly calling for. When the Budget Law will emerge, we will finally be able to see the real character of this government. Judging by the hue and cry being raised by the Confindustria and the Lega, the forecast for autumn is of stormy weather.

The welcoming gestures made by the Left, both at the political level and at the level of trade unions, towards the social issues on the 5 Star agenda are worthy of attention and (duly critical) support. It does not bode well that the economists that were going to be ministers in the prospective M5S government touted before the elections vanished from view after the vote on March 4; accordingly, we have kept a good distance from the M5S’s embrace of Salvini. However, the PD and the Confindustria are now thick as thieves, and one can only be shocked seeing industry representatives and the politicians of the Democratic Party fighting on the same side. While there is much talk about bicycle delivery workers, a symbol of today’s labor insecurity, the Democratic Party does not appear to regret the Jobs Act in the slightest, but is still touting it, with a consistency worthy of a better cause.

The current governing alliance is likely to do much harm to the country. In the political games which will play out in the coming months, whether in Parliament, on the social level or among trade unions, someone should try to put forward an alternative platform. There is certainly no shortage of opportunities for that. There is, however, a shortage of everything else: particularly of the ability to put together a unified, and most importantly lucid, initiative, against the background of the striking overturning of traditional models of social representation that has changed the political face of the country.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your weekly briefing of progressive news.

You have Successfully Subscribed!