Salvini’s Migrant Ship Trial: How the European Establishment Keeps Boosting the Far Right

Matteo Salvini on Twitter. Photo above: Matteo Salvini, then as Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, (left) with US Vice President Mike Pence in Washington, DC, in June 2019. Photo: Wikipedia
(*This opinion / analytical article was written by Ivan Dikov for The European Views website.)

Salvini’s quest for power has just been aided by those who want to stop or punish him by putting him on trial.

The disheartening situation with the coronavirus outbreak in Italy should not eclipse the fact that Italian far-right leader Matteo Salvini has the kind of political adversaries every highly ambitious politician can dream of.

Namely, ones whose moves to take him down or punish him will not only catapult him into power but might even bestow a halo of martyrdom for the sake a grand cause upon his relentless, outspoken head.

That may very well end up being the end result of the decision of the Italian Senate earlier this month to strip off Salvini’s legal immunity in order to allow him to be tried for blocking a ship carrying migrants from entering Italy back in July 2019.

That is right: Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant and presumably far-right League party, who served as Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister in 2018 – 2019, in the far-left + far-right government of his party in a coalition with the leftist populist Five Stars Movement – has just been handed a great platform for promoting himself as, say, “a courageous defender of Italy and Europe from countless waves of migrants from Africa and the Middle East.” Or something of the sort.

At the end of July 2019, then Interior Minister Salvini refused to allow 131 rescued migrants off the Gregoretti coastguard boat until a deal was reached with other European states to host them.

He keeps insisting that was not an individual decision but a decision of the then Cabinet of then (and current) Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, but prosecutors in Sicily have started an investigation into the conditions on the boat, and a court in Catania has accused Salvini of “abuse of power”.

It is beyond obvious that those who voted to strip off Salvini’s immunity in order to punish him over a combination of harboring deep dislike for him, and his seeming thirst for power will end up ruing the day they made that decision.

Because the fact of the matter is if you want to stop the march of the far right, handing it a wonderful long-term publicity opportunity precisely on the count where it is strongest is a terrible, terrible idea.

The other fact of the matter is that the situation with the large-scale influx of migrants from the wider Middle East and Africa into the European Union, Western Europe in particular, is already controversial enough. The rationale Salvini puts forth to justify his actions cannot simply be dismissed without even being considered carefully.

Read the rest of this article on The European Views website here

(441 words cited out of a total of 1,982 words)



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