In Italy, Marine Le Pen chooses Salvini and distances herself from Meloni.

Marine Le Pen et le vice-président du conseil des ministres italien et secrétaire fédéral de la Ligue, Matteo Salvini, à Pontida (Italie), le 17 septembre 2023.

A nationalist among the autonomists. On Sunday, September 17, at the foot of the Bergamo Alps, Marine Le Pen immersed herself for a few hours in the Lega Nord folklore, at the invitation of her friend and ally Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right Italian party, the League. After their joint rally in Milan in 2019, the leader of the National Rally (RN) was the guest of honor at the “raduno di Pontida”, a first for a foreign party leader. To see it as just a rally would be missing the point. Epic music, dozens of giant regional flags, a stadium announcer, and up to 50,000 people on bad days, like this year. An event that the RN no longer organizes and that Umberto Bossi, the founder of the Italian movement, wanted to be inspired by World Youth Day. Since 1990, buses have been flocking from the strongholds of the Northern League to this vacant lot near Bergamo.

Pontida, terre sainte des autonomistes du Nord : ici aurait été conclu, au XIIIn the 20th century, the pact of the Bergamo League united cities determined to fight against the Holy Roman German Empire. Some old Padans wearing green shirts did not miss a single one – Padania is the region roughly corresponding to the Po Valley, fantasized by Northern regionalists. Two enemies are most shared: communism and Southern Italy, which would benefit too much from money transfers facilitated by a Roman central power described as incapable. All morning, speeches follow one another to denounce “welfare”, “uncontrolled” immigration, drugs, or bureaucracy, but above all to demand a federal Italy, giving power to regional executives.

The honor given to Marine Le Pen has upset some hard-headed members of the League, especially in Veneto, her other stronghold. Furious about the invitation of a figure they consider too extreme – even though they themselves participate in a coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist party – some have boycotted the Pontida meeting, despite Matteo Salvini’s intimidation attempts. Amidst taking selfies with supporters, the President of Veneto, Luca Zaia, expresses a moderate enthusiasm to Le Monde: “Our doors are open to everyone, it is primarily a celebration for our supporters… You know, we have welcomed [former leader of the Democratic Party] Massimo D’Alema, who was on the opposite end of the political spectrum. We are autonomists. The rest does not interest me.”

Une incongruité politique

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