RomeWorst of all are his Instagram videos. There he stands on the roof of the Ministry of the Interior in Rome and films the seagulls and says into the camera: "These are monsters that eat dirt. Dear city administration, clears the garbage off the streets for this pest to stop. Now I'm going back to my desk. "You have to know that Rome is governed by the coalition partner Five Stars and that the Lega would like to change that.
In another video, he bites into a Nutella crepe and says, "It's not dietary food, but it has to be done now." Or it shows up hand in hand with his new, 20 year younger girlfriend.
Matteo Salvini, Lega chief, vice-premier, interior minister and permanent campaigner, leaves his followers for an hour without new images and sayings. This is strategy from the handbook of populism, see Donald Trump. A large team ensures that he is constantly present on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Every step is followed, every sentence is published. Sometimes in the evenings he just posts a selfie with a big laugh and text: I like you.
Political messages? Only his law-and-order sayings. Against strangers, against the sparse Europeans, against the enemies of "Made in Italy". It's about approval, "I'm one of you," he calls to the less educated and wealthy Italians, whose prejudices against everything foreign he serves. His sympathy works, his approval ratings continue to rise.
In keeping with the summer season – in Italy, the three-month school holidays have just begun – the Lega boss is now shifting his focus to the beaches and lakes. Not to mention that he does not appear at the EU Home Affairs Ministers meeting and sends representatives. And he is also rare in the Interior Ministry, it says in Rome. He prefers to be outside the people.
Extra money for safe beaches
"Spiagge sicure", safe beaches, this is the name of the campaign of the Minister of the Interior, which he has now presented in Rome. A total of 4.7 million euros he provides through a fund of the Ministry of Interior, for 125 municipalities that are located on the sea. And this year, the Great Lakes are also included in the program that Salvini launched for the first time after the electoral victory a year ago.
The municipalities of Riva del Garda, Arona, Alassio, Finale Ligure, Riccione, Cattolica, Lucca, Taormina, Palermo and many others will each receive approximately 20,000 euros, with which the mayor may hire extra law enforcement personnel or pay police overtime on the beach in the summer months. Their job then is to drive out the flying dealers who offer counterfeit brand bags, sunglasses, tattoos and massages.
The penalties are drastic: up to € 7,000 must pay who sells or buys illegal goods. "Zero tolerance," says Salvini. And that he had taken the requests of the communities. And that the "beautiful" places should be protected.
However, Salvini is not responsible for the ban on smoking, which applies to most beaches since this year. Any church can decide that for themselves. But "Spiagge sicure" and the smoking ban are the first signs of the new Italy under populist government. A country that yearns for authority and enforcement.
Salvini kills two birds with his program of safe beaches: The local administrators are grateful to him and choose the Lega, which is spreading more and more. For this he sharpens his xenophobic enemy image. Because the flying traders are to a large extent from the sub-Saharan countries – just like the refugees from Libya, for which Salvini has blocked the Italian ports.
Flying dealers as a change
But on the beach you can often see holidaymakers gather around one of the dealers to take a look at their bags, shoes, chains or sunglasses. You can see that this is a welcome change. If that bothers you, the traders wave away. "Safe beaches", what? You could also spend the money to fight the drug trade. That's a real problem in Italy.
At the end, a tip, which place tourists best avoided: Last summer, Salvini posted in a floral swimwear at his favorite beach, Milano Marittima. The place is located on the Adriatic Sea south of Ravenna. In the beach establishment "Papetee Beach" he made holidays in the midst of the crowd, of course always with the phone in his hand. And as luck would have it, Massimo Casanova (yes, his name is), the head of the "Papetee", one of Salvini's best friends, is now a Lega Member of the European Parliament
More: In the European elections, Matteo Salvini and his party Lega became the strongest force in Italy. What that means for the government coalition, read here.
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