Italy’s populists blame Germany for thwarted effort to form government
Italy’s populists, angry at being thwarted in their attempt to form a government, have been quick to the point the finger at who is to blame — the Germans. After President Sergio Mattarella vetoed their choice for finance minister and put the country on the path to new elections, the populist parties seemed certain to make Germany’s dominance in Europe a campaign issue.
“We have a basic principle, and according to that only Italians make decisions for Italy, not the Germans,” said Matteo Salvini, head of the Euro-skeptic League party, formerly known as Northern League. Mr. Mattarella vetoed the choice of economist Paolo Savona as finance minister because of his avowed hostility to the euro. “We won’t let anyone blackmail us,” Mr. Salvini said. “A minister the Germans don’t like is exactly the right minister for us.”
The caricature of the ugly German matched that of the lazy Italian, which ran through the German media in the past few days as the populists were on the verge of taking power with a plan to provide fiscal stimulus to Italy’s ailing economy. Newsweekly Der Spiegel ran a story titled “The moochers of Rome,” casting Germany as the generous provider of funds to an ungrateful nation of deadbeats.