Italy’s far-right League holds annual rally in buoyant mood
Italy’s far-right League launched its annual gathering on Sunday with party head and hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini in triumphant mood after declaring the country’s ports closed to NGO migrant ships.
Salvini, attending his fifth party conference in the northern port of Pontida, said the League had cemented its place as the “most populist party” in Europe.
“The term is a compliment to me,” the 45-year-old, clad in a blue T-shirt bearing his own portrait, told journalists in Pontida. “I will tour capital cities, and not just European ones, to create an alternative to this Europe founded on exploitation… (and) mass immigration.”
Around 50,000 people from around Italy were expected to attend the event, drawn by Salvini’s “Italians first” rallying cry.
Salvini, who is co-deputy prime minister as well as interior minister, has thrived with his hardline stance as the migrant issue has become central to the European agenda. He announced Friday that Italian ports would be closed “all summer” to charity ships which rescue migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe.
“The NGOs will only see Italy on a postcard,” Salvini quipped.