Matteo Salvini is Giorgia Meloni’s main alliance partner in a right-wing coalition leading opinion polls ahead of Italy’s snap general election on Sunday.
His Northern League party is allied with Meloni’s far-right Italian Brothers and Silvio Berlusconi’s Go Italy movement.
If the bloc triumphs, it will likely be a bittersweet moment for Salvini who has seen his position as the undisputed leader of the right usurped by Meloni.
“For me it would be a pride, a joy, a thrill to be chosen by you and President Sergio Mattarella as prime minister of this extraordinary country,” Salvini said last week to thousands of flag-waving supporters in Pontida. , the spiritual house of his party
Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party is expected to win around 25% of the vote, while the League is estimated at around 12%, up from 34% in the European Parliament elections in 2019.
The Northern League was originally rooted in the wealthy north, with then leader Umberto Bossi demanding secession from the poorer south.
Salvini, 49, rebuilt the nearly crumbling party when he took office nine years ago, replacing old war cries of independence with the slogan ‘Italians first’ and replacing chants against Rome with insults directed at Brussels.
His strategy seemed to work, with the League forming a coalition government in 2018 and Salvini himself becoming interior minister. But a series of political blunders since then have put his ally Meloni ahead of him in the polls.
At the start of the rally, ministers and regional governors of the League made a formal commitment to give greater autonomy to the regions and to pursue reductions in taxes and energy bills.
They also promised to lower the retirement age, stop immigrant arrivals and improve the justice system.
In his speech, Salvini pledged to abolish the €90 tax that Italians pay each year to finance the public television channel RAI and to revitalize small villages by turning them into a real estate free zone.