The Fall and Rise of Matteo Salvini

The Lega Leader Will Make or Break Italy

Matteo Salvini speaks to the media in Rome, May 2018. Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters

A week is a long time in politics, particularly when the fate of a country hangs on the ambitions of a single individual in the way that Italy’s fate now hangs on those of Lega leader (and now Interior Minister) Matteo Salvini. The week started with the collapse of a governing coalition between two populist parties, Lega and the Five Star Movement (M5S), and ended with essentially that same government swearing the oath of office. There were many bit players in the drama, but Salvini was the protagonist. The takeaway is simple: this government will last only so long as Salvini has his way.


The drama began on Sunday, May 27, when Salvini pulled the plug on a coalition government between Lega and M5S. Salvini was insulted by the unwillingness of Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, to appoint the Euroskeptic economist Paolo Savona as minister of

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