With former European Central Bank head Mario Draghi set to head the next Italian government, New Europe spoke with Massimiliano Capitanio, a member of the Italian parliament for Lega, about the attitude of his party towards a Draghi-led government.

Lega‘s leader, Matteo Salvini, has confirmed that he is throwing his support behind Draghi and will also to sit in the cabinet with other political forces, who also happen to be Lega’s political rivals, including the Democratic Party and the Five Star Movement. Incredibly, just the mention of name Draghi’s was, in only a few hours, able to wipe out any attempt from the country’s leftist parties to bar Salvini from being a part of the new government and nullified the Five Star Movement’s ban on former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

There are times in Italian politics when miracles can happen. Without question, the formation of the new Draghi government will be long remembered for being one of the major surprises in Rome’s long history of power politics.

In an exclusive exchange with Salvini about the sudden aura of cooperation in the government talks, the Lega leader told New Europe: ”About the new government, I don’t have any conditions to impose. With Professor Draghi the key topics for us are going to be more employment and healthcare; less taxes and bureaucracy, I don’t care about the veto’s (on our participation in the government) by the Five Star Movement, the Democratic party and other leftist parties. What I care about are only concrete facts like having more construction sites start up again around the country and very special attention given to our schools. About our future participation in the government, with specific ministries, I can tell you that we still didn’t discuss this. What we care about now is the future of our country.”

Following up on Salvini’s comments, his Lega colleague Massimiliano Capitanio further explained the party’s position as the new Draghi government begins to take shape.

New Europe (NE): Immigration is a key issue for Lega, after these first consultations what do you think the attitude will be from Professor Mario Draghi on this topic?

Massimiliano Capitanio (MC): As Professor Draghi is not a politician I think he was never confronted with the problem. He certainly will not have the same position as ours on the issue, but we are sure he is not interested in supporting the business of human trafficking. Having said that, I’m sure we will agree on how to handle this problem.

NE: What are your immediate key priorities in the new government?

MC: One of our priorities, and I’m sure we will agree with Professor Draghi on that, is to secure the country from the point of view of healthcare. We have to solve the emergency that is the COVID pandemic. We should consider Lombardy as a model for Italy. From an economic point of view, businesses and companies need to be compensated for their losses. In this regard, Lega has in mind the so-called “ Genova model “. This is in reference to our ability to rebuild a collapsed bridge in only one year. That model is based on a hard cut of the bureaucracy, as well as a simplification and digitalization of the procedures. The idea that we need to let our entrepreneurs ”fly” is a key point that I’m sure we are going to share with Professor Draghi. According to data from Milan Polytechnic, the lack of digitalization of the public administration costs our country €25 billion every year. Therefore, we have to start from that point in order to let our companies run properly. When it comes to school, the management we think that our country needs is a real minister (of education); one that knows the critical problems facing the education system, including the hiring of new professors, the security issues in school buildings and a drastic intervention in student transportation. Our priorities as Lega are healthcare, employment, education and regional autonomy. Left alone, when we talk about these issues and other topics, we can meet halfway.

NE: Let’s talk about Lega’s new and more positive attitude towards the EU, can you explain your current position about Europe?

MC: Let me debunk some fake news…Lega, since we were founded, has always had a concept based on “Europe of the people”. Both Matteo Salvini and I grew up in the Lega youth movement and we took part in youth meetings in order to build a Europe based on people. A concept of Europe based only on banks, EU directives, financial and budget obligations doesn’t interest us, but we are not an anti-EU movement. I’m sure there is a distorted opinion about our movement, I often read the Anglo-American press and I get nervous when I read my colleagues being defined as members of a ‘far-right’ party. These journalists should come to Italy meet us and see if we are really the Italian extreme right. As we are not the enemy of Europe, they will be surprised to discover that we aren’t the far-right. I see a lot of confusion about Lega. I’m sure in the past we made some mistakes and we should have had a better way to communicate our ideas, while others were smarter in the way that they were able to perpetuate a wrong image of our movement.

Lega leader Matteo Salvini talks during a press conference after a meeting with premier-designate Mario Draghi at the Lower House in Rome. EPA-EFE//ROBERTO MONALDO

NE: Do you think that the fact that Forza Italia and Lega are now going to be part of this government, and The Brothers of Italy are staying out, is going to endanger the center-right coalition in the future?

MC: When Lega decided to support the first Conte government, the center-right coalition stayed intact and won a long series of regional elections. All the electoral pools are giving our coalition very close to the 50% of the votes. This means that we are now the highest-rated coalition in the country. As a result, our identity and programs have been already consolidated for years, therefore, I don’t see big problems related to our participation in the new government.


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