Matteo Salvini just stabbed the populists in the throat. Or did he? The Italian firebrand and face of the Italian populist right did the unthinkable over the weekend, by very conditionally supporting former ECB President Mario Draghi’s attempt to form a government.
Salvini, as the head of the Center Right coalition and Lega, is in political limbo. He’s embroiled in a nonsensical lawsuit in Sicily which is nothing more than political theatre meant to dog him and de-legitimize him.
He’s been out of power since September 2019 when he broke the government formed between Lega and Five Star Movement(M5S). M5S leader Luigi Di Maio then betrayed the party’s populists by making a deal with their personal devil, the Democrats to stay in power.
At the time Salvini’s Lega was polling between 35-38% and would have waltzed into power via elections had Di Maio not made the deal with former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Renzi then stabbed Di Maio by splitting off from the Democrats, forming his own party which has almost zero popular support, but he took two cabinet ministers with him, collapsing that government.
And that, briefly, brings us to today.
Today the polls, after a year and a half of trauma and Salvini being out of power, have shifted but not by as much as the headlines would suggest.
Lega’s support is off but the Brothers of Italy (FdL) have taken those voters and FdL are farther to the right than Salvini’s more centrist/populist Lega.
Roughly the same percentage of Italians support parties to the right of center, far more than in 2018. In effect, what’s happened is the populists who voted for M5S in 2018 migrated first to Salvini’s Lega once it became clear M5S was incapable of governing.
And then a portion of Lega’s voters shifted farther right to support the Brothers (FdL). At no point have the Italian centrists, supported by the political establishment, gained a lick of support.
Italians understand what is happening. And I think the polls at this point are simply a reflection of both confusion and voter apathy for all the Machivellian games on display in Rome.
These people fiddle trying to salvage their agenda while the country burns down around them. There isn’t a better metaphor for what’s happening than that.
And yet, it never ends. So, the question now is why did Salvini agree to support the obvious Brussels Man Draghi when he’s the architect of Italy’s woes?
I think the answer is lies in a digging into the political calculus of the situation.
- Salvini is in a position to get back into government and keep a high profile in the run up to next year’s elections.
- M5S was always going to support Draghi here, because they have no path to staying in power if they don’t, but the party itself is fracturing.
- Being the guy who stands aside while the government is paralyzed isn’t a strong position. Let the FdL collect those voters.
- The people are in open revolt against lockdown policies and that will only get worse. They will not stand for Austerity
- But austerity is exactly what Draghi plans to do (see this post by Martin Armstrong on what Draghi’s plan is)
- Salvini, if he’s smart (a dubious assertion) can pull out of the government in protest, possibly taking Forza Italia or even what’s left of the populists in M5S with him.
- The time premium (gamma squeeze) on collapsing the government rises the closer we get to next year’s elections, as more factions will rebel against Draghi over their protestations.
The reality here is that the populists have no leverage with Mattarella in power as president. He has inserted himself extra-constitutionally multiple times since the 2018 election results came in and has proven time and again, that what the people want given those results does not matter.
But the reality also is that a swamp as deep as the one in Rome is capable of corrupting anyone. Salvini is no savior, and he may not be that astute a political operative as evidenced by his failed ploy for elections in 2019.
This is likely just his admission to everyone that until the playing field changes, until he and the anti-Brussels factions are handed better cards to play by the people, getting dirty in Draghi’s technocratic regime is the best play.
And that doesn’t make it a good one or even one likely to be successful.
Italy is now at the vanguard of Bill Gates’ population reduction strategy, as birthrates dropped a shocking 22% nine months after the lockdowns began. Nothing will be spared in the quest for global control, I guess.
Because the Central Bankers are coming fully into power here, pushing aside all opposition to their usurping the paralyzed and squabbling politicians.
This is the PR gambit that’s on display.
New U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is now calling for basically unlimited stimulus while the Democrats push for massive free money “for the children” which they’ve driven to record levels of suicide during these insane lockdowns.
The U.S. has to be materially weakened and no longer looked at as a functional society with a weak dollar, weak fiscal policy and domestic policy which will accelerate the flight of capital out of the country.
On the other hand, Draghi will demand massive austerity to club Italy to death and Christine Lagarde at the ECB will not allow anyone to escape their fate, saying recently there will be no debt forgiveness of any form.
This is the same playbook they ran Greece through in 2015 and Italy will be on tap for it in 2021. And this will be the way, just like in 2015, Angela Merkel in Germany will sell this to the German people, holding the line against Italian deadbeats.
Deadbeats, by the way, which Mario Draghi himself subsidized, encouraged and created through his myriad of alphabet soup programs which kept the euro from collapsing, taking the EU with it, while sticking the future bill on the German people, c.f. Italy’s ridiculous TARGET 2 imbalances.
But as bad and evil as these people are they are portrayed as the dispassionate wise men capable of delivering us from the partisanship of parliamentary politics.
And is the cruelest part of this Byzantine political puzzle, which gets more bizarre and nakedly evil with each passing day. Salvini’s signing up to do his best to put the brakes on from the inside is likely his tilting at windmills.
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