The appointment of a former IMF director as interim PM shows that Italy’s president is “with the bankers,” not the people, the head of Euroskeptic Lega Nord has said, exemplifying the widespread anger over the unprecedented move.
“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, 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.”
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