Italy’s Matteo Salvini is a more dangerous threat to the EU outside government

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
28th Aug 2019

Be careful what you wish for in Italian politics. The exile of the volcanic Matteo Salvini is a Faustian Bargain for the EU establishment and the defenders of the euro project.

There must be a high chance that the Lega strongman – and de facto leader of the Continent’s anti-EU rebellion – will sweep back into power with an overwhelming majority next year or soon after.

He may then be strong enough to push revolutionary changes through the Italian constitutional system that would be impossible sooner: a New Deal spending blitz backed by a politically-controlled Bank of Italy and a parallel “minibot” currency that neutralises the enforcement tools of the European Central Bank.

His departure this week means that others will be left to grapple with Italy’s intractable stagnation. It is they who will have to push through €23bn of austerity cuts to comply with the EU’s stability pact and the fiscal compact, the paraphernalia of arcane budget rules concocted by lawyers and unworkable in a serious downturn. Mr Salvini’s hands will be clean. “It is a win-win situation for us,” said Claudio Borghi, the Lega’s economics chief.

Assuming that there is no last-minute upset the radical Five Star Movement will embrace its arch-enemy – the pro-EU, centrist, Democrat Party (PD) – and form an awkward coalition with no obvious mission other than holding power for its own sake.