Populism in Action’s Principal Investigator Prof. Daniele Albertazzi has been quoted in the Politico Europe article “Italy’s Matteo Salvini recasts himself as champion of Ukraine’s refugees”.
Written by the Rome based journalist Hannah Roberts, the news feature article explores League Party leader Matteo Salvini’s attempts to cast himself as a defender and would be rescuer of Ukrainian refugees, and to surreptitiously distance himself from previous statements and gestures that were seen as indicating support and sympathy for long serving Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Prof. Albertazzi comments that:
“The obvious, instinctive approach for Salvini would be … ‘OK, they need help but let’s not let in the wrong people,’”
And as Roberts paraphrases “Salvini is under pressure from his rivals on the right, Brothers of Italy, which is gaining ground.”
“On this issue, [the League and rival populist radical right Brothers of Italy Party] are both anxious not to be outsmarted by the other,”
Roberts sums up Prof. Albertazzi’s assessment of the Leagues’ pivot on immigration as being “that when the migrant sea crossings from North Africa start again in the spring, the League leader will return to complaining about the arrival of economic migrants, with the advantage of being able to say that he is not against all refugees, just those unfairly abusing the system.”
Leaving Prof. Albertazzi to conclude:
“He [Salvini] knows that Christian and white refugees from Ukraine are considerably more acceptable to large numbers of Italians than young men crossing from Tunisia … He is being very smart. People have a short memory. Instead of fighting he is showing his nice side and next time he can go back to being nasty.”