, 30 tweets, 12 min read Read on Twitter
Why the Italian populist government has basically collapsed, why Salvini (League) & Di Maio (5 Star Movement) were destined to break up and why the next general election will be decisive for the future of #Italy - and Europe.

A short thread (like when I used to work in Italy😊)
1. First of all, I was one of the very first commentators in Italy predicting a coalition between Di Maio and Salvini despite it sounded absurd then, getting many critics for that.()

So, when I say it was destined to break up, it's for a different reason.
2. Secondly, to be clear, the high speed railway TAV dispute (in some way similar to the British HS2) is just the tipping point of longstanding crisis between the two coalition parties. TAV surely sparked the ultimate crisis but Salvini and Di Maio were incompatible on much more.
3. Basically the LEAGUE (Salvini's far right party) voted for TAV, M5S against it (they have always fiercily campaigned to scrap the "money wasting" project) and the main opposition party, the centre-left PD, voted for TAV along with Salvini. So, coalition crisis became blatant.
4. But the LEAGUE and M5S (Five Star Mov) have been at odds on a number of issues in the last months. Basically, the LEAGUE is a federalist party, campaigned for the secession of the North from the rest of Italy until a few years ago. Salvini also wants a "flat tax" (15% for all)
5. On the contrary, Five Stars Movement (M5S) economic and social policies are profoundly State-oriented: for instance, they pushed for a universal basic income, which is sheerly at odds with Salvini's approach, which is slashing taxes for the richest weaking the welfare state.
6. (A incidental but crucial note, as I often see it misrepresented in foreign reports: if Salvini's LEAGUE is clearly a far-right party, Di Maio's M5S is NOT a left-wing party, despite its appearance, i.e. on migrants, justice... Indeed, they agreed with LEAGUE on those issues)
7. Both parties, LEAGUE and M5S are deeply populist, eurosceptic (another proof on M5S not being a progressive left-wing party) and also nationalist. Those shared values and vision of the world have glued them so far. But now this is not enough anymore to keep the coalition alive
8. Also, during the last year two silent but decisive political events have severely changed the course of #Italy's populist coalition.

The first one: Salvini has literally cannibalised Di Maio and M5S, as I predicted more than once some time ago.
9. Actually, this was easy to predict: Salvini is an incredibly experienced politician, despite his relatively "young" age (46). He knows how politics works in #Italy

On the contrary, Di Maio and M5S, despite powerful electoral campaigns, have often shown sheer naivety in office
10. This leads me to the second major change I mentioned earlier, which is a deep internal crisis in the Five Star Movement (M5S).

Di Maio's (another very young deputy PM like Salvini, he is 33) leadership is shaking as much as his government right now, for a number of reasons.
11. First of all, the M5S is now orphan of their two founders and "fathers": the visionary Gianroberto Casaleggio died in 2016, while the former comedian Beppe Grillo has slowly slipped away from the main political scene, maybe tired of it, leaving it to M5S younger generations.
12. The problem is that the new M5S generations have proved themselves often unfit for the job (see the disastrous gaffes and mistakes by Infrastructure secretary Toninelli) and now there is a huge rift inside the party, which endangers Di Maio leadership. Who can challenge him?
13. His name is Alessandro Di Battista, another prominent young M5S leader (41 y.o.), who is now back after several months traveling the world. I regard him the "Salvini of M5S" and I'll tell you why. Keep this name in mind cause you'll hear from him soon.

#Italy #Italycrisis
14. I think that Di Battista, who I guess will challenge Di Maio on the M5S leadership soon or later, is very similar to Salvini because:

He is charismatic, populist, radical, nationalist, anti migrants, deeply eurosceptic like Salvini

And he hates the centre-left like Salvini.
15. Of course, if Salvini and Di Battista are going to be the main contestants in the next general election, this is going to have a deep impact on #Italy, if the centre-left opposition PD doesn't react politically to a radical scenario like this, but I'll talk later about that.
16. Now, the thing is that M5S is in a profound crisis and their sheer naivety has come to a head. For instance, they have always shown off their populist rule of only "two mandates" for their representatives. If so, Di Maio would be out at the next GE. They'll change the rules.
17. That's why Salvini has decided yesterday to break up the coalition: he knows that M5S has massively lost approval from 32% in 2018 GE, while he and LEAGUE have gained sensibly from 17% and now they are predicted to be the biggest party reaching 35% according to polls.
18. LEAGUE and M5S have had rows on many issues in the latest months (TAV, federalist, justice and tax system reforms etc) but don't get misguided on it. Salvini decided to break up for two reasons.

The first one is M5S weakness and the real chance to go to GE and become PM.
19. The 2nd reason is more opportunistic. Salvini has always promised to slash taxes while he has been in a permanent electoral campaign, particularly against migrants

In a couple of months the bugdet law must be approved. #Italy economy is anemic and VAT may rise from 22 to 25%
20. This would be a huge blow to Salvini's rhetoric of his magical world. Therefore, he decided that this was the right moment to go to polls, despite his many dark frightening sides that would spoil his approval in maybe any other Western country. Not in #Italy apparently.
21. Salvini's record is worrisome:
- Racist rhetorics
- His closeness to Putin and other autocrats like Orban
- The latest scandal "Moscopoli" and LEAGUE alleged request to Russia for funding
- His attacks to journalists
- His new laws on public order
- Censorship of dissent
22. Despite this, Salvini is rocking the polls, showing that he might get an absolute majority at the next GE (some polls put him beyond 38%). This would have a major impact on #Italy's future, cause he would have "full powers", as he said today echoing some Mussolini's rhetorics
23. On the other side, opposition factions are bickering as seen in the past. The main opposition party, the centre-left PD, is split and lacking new ideas, former PM Renzi is rumored to launch a new centrist party, which will pave even more the way for Salvini to power
24. But why Salvini has gained so much approval in #Italy?

Two main reasons.

His harsh, often racist rhetorics against migrants which seems to please a big part of Italian electorate (also thanks to the mistakes of previous governments).

His attacks to EU and euro currency.
25. This is why the next general election will be a crucial turning point for the future of #Italy and Europe

They will be "sovranism" (Salvini + FDI, another far right party) versus the rest

If Salvini wins, Italy is going to have the most far-right government after Mussolini.
26. Also, Salvini is russophile and friend of Vladimir Putin.

One of the closest Salvini's aides allegedly even asked Putin's Russian party for money ("Moscopoli" scandal)

This is going to have a massive impact on EU geopolitics and Italy's stance on many international issues.
27. About Euroscepticism

Recently Salvini has watered down his harsh tones against EU and euro currency. The main reason is the #Brexit mess

But this is not the end of it. Just think about the recent case of "mini-bonds" as a potential parallel currency

28. Just a final note. #Italy's government crisis has not been formalized yet. The populist government LEAGUE-M5S is still in power. But PM Conte, considered by some a puppet of his two deputies Di Maio and Salvini, might be brought down by a confidence vote in the next few days.
29. This thread ends here. Hope it was useful to you.

And I hope to have been clear enough to explain this new (complicated) political crisis in #Italy, which may have an enormous impact on the future of the country and the whole Europe.

Let's see what happens next. 🇮🇹

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