Italian far-right leader Matteo Salvini and his French ally Marine Le Pen displayed their political unity on Sunday in view of the European elections in June which will determine the future balance within the European Parliament. The meeting is held in Pontida, in the north of Italy, site of the traditional celebration of Matteo Salvini’s Anti-Migrant League where Marine Le Pen, president of the National Rally (RN) group in the French National Assembly, must also be expressed.
Their political alliance has seemed solid for around ten years and also testifies to the solidity of their personal relationship. “I invite those who don’t know her to come and know her: she is an extraordinary woman, open, curious, evolved from a cultural point of view,” Matteo Salvini said this week. “Dear Italian friends, it is with great pleasure that I will be at your side (…) at the invitation of my very great friend Matteo Salvini,” replied Marine Le Pen in a video.
If at the national political level, Marine Le Pen is in opposition while Matteo Salvini belongs to the right-wing and far-right government coalition led by Giorgia Meloni, head of Fratelli d’Italia (FDI), Marine Le Pen and the RN prances in the opinion polls when the League and Matteo Salvini peak at 8-9%, far behind FDI. In other words, one seems to need the other more, especially since the RN achieved very high scores in the last two Europeans.
“Matteo Salvini’s objective is essentially domestic policy, to mark his difference with FDI,” analyzes historian Marc Lazar, professor at Sciences-Po, for AFP. “He also wants to show that the League is not an isolated party in Europe and given the popularity of Marine Le Pen he hopes that this will reflect on him,” he adds.
In Pontida, “the presence of Marine Le Pen must confirm the very strong relationship between, on the one hand, the League and the National Rally and, on the other hand, Matteo Salvini and Marine Le Pen,” told AFP in Paris a source from Marine Le Pen’s entourage. The alliance between the two parties is “one of the most lasting”, notes the philosopher and journalist Anna Bonalume, specialist in Matteo Salvini. “The balances have changed over the years but their relationship has never changed. They always follow and support each other.”
On the agenda of their meeting, the European elections of June 9 for which Matteo Salvini tried to replicate the national alliance at the European level. An offer sharply rejected by its government allies (FDI and Forza Italia, FI). Antonio Tajani, head of diplomacy and FI (member party European People’s Party, EPP), firmly ruled out a rapprochement with the French far right and the German AFD. “Our values are alternative” and Ms. Le Pen “will never be our ally,” he declared.
In Strasbourg, FDI and Giorgia Meloni intend to sit with Reconquête, Éric Zemmour’s party, of which Marion Maréchal, niece of Marine Le Pen, will be head of the European list. “Ms Le Pen has the freedom to go where she wants and Matteo Salvini has the freedom to invite whoever he wants” to Pontida, quipped Guido Crosetto, Minister of Defense and close to Giorgia Meloni with whom he co-founded FDI.
This article originally available on lefigaro.fr