Italian Eurosceptic coalition lashes out at the power grab by pro-EU interim PM: “We are with people, not bankers”. “Only goose-stepping EU cheerleaders are qualified to serve as minister of economy”.
“They are with the bankers and the powerful ones. We are with the Italian people,” Matteo Salvini, the leader of Lega Nord, wrote on Twitter shortly after President Sergio Mattarella announced his decision to make ex-IMF director Carlo Cottarelli interim prime minister on Monday. The defiant message was accompanied by a photograph showing Mattarella, Cottarelli, former prime minister Matteo Renzi, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Mattarella. Salvini is pictured below that, rallying a crowd.
Cottarelli’s appointment comes a day after Mattarella refused to sign off on a new government assembled by Lega and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S). Both parties have criticized the euro and the European Union. After lengthy negotiations, the two parties joined forces to create a collective majority in parliament and form a new government.
Lega and Five Star wasted little time before lashing out at Mattarella’s decision to block the appointment of their choice for economy minister.
What a terrible day for Italy and for democracy,” Salvini said in a Facebook post on Sunday, following Mattarella’s decision to veto Paolo Savona’s nomination for the post of economy minister. Savona has been a vocal critic of the euro, and Mattarella said he could not approve his appointment because it could potentially risk Italy’s exit from the shared European currency. “The government ‘of change’ could not be formed, because the Lords of the Spread and of the banks, ministers in Berlin, Paris and Brussels were against it,” Salvini wrote. He later added on Twitter: “Italy is not a colony, we are neither German nor French slaves. We are not the slaves of the spread or finance.”
His coalition partner and leader of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, echoed a similar sentiment, noting that apparently only goose-stepping EU cheerleaders are qualified to serve as minister of economy.
“None of those who in their lives have been critical of the EU or of euro, can be a good fit for Minister of Economy,” Di Maio said in an emotional live stream video on Sunday night.
“This is not free democracy. I have always esteemed President Mattarella, but this choice is simply incomprehensible to me,” he said.
Veneto’s governor and former Minister of Agriculture, Luca Zaia, also slammed Mattarella’s decision to block the new government as “a pretext to stop the wind of change that was identified during the elections.”
Loro con i banchieri e i poteri forti, noi con gli italiani! Aiutatemi a condividere! pic.twitter.com/zbkfiPy4lT
— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) May 28, 2018
Italian President Sergio Mattarella announced the appointment on Monday, following his controversial decision to withdraw his support for the new government. Mattarella had objected to the Euroskeptic coalition’s choice for economy minister, Paolo Savona, insisting that the post must be reserved for someone who would not risk Italy’s exit from the euro. Savona, a respected economist, professor and former government minister, has been a vocal critic of the euro and advocated preparing “Plan B” for Italy on quitting the Eurozone.
It’s still unclear how the electorate will receive Cottarelli’s appointment. However, according to Foa, Italians are already “disgusted” by Mattarella’s refusal to allow the new government to take the reins. “There is no constitutional reason and no constitutional power to block a government that has a majority in parliament,” Foa said, adding that Italy now faces a “very serious crisis because the president is apparently violating the constitution that he is supposed to respect fully.”
John Laughland, a British academic and author on international affairs, said that Mattarella’s recent political maneuverings were the symptom of a larger, European trend. “I don’t think it’s a constitutional crisis in Italy, I think it’s a constitutional crisis in the whole of Europe,”Laughland told RT. “We’ve seen now systematically how members of the European elite, of which President Mattarella is an excellent example, use every method they can to prevent parties wielding power if that power is to be wielded against the euro or against the European Union.”
Laughland observed that the president – who is not elected by the Italian people – had stonewalled the formation of a government that “would have been supported by the parliamentary majority which has just been elected. In other words, it has an impeccable democratic mandate.”