Italy’s Minister Salvini says populists could spark a 'European Spring'

Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini called for an alliance with Poland among others during a visit to Warsaw, ahead of European Parliament elections this May. This was his latest effort to unify Eurosceptic allies against the pro-E.U. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Minister Salvini’s Italian League party pledges to create a “new European spring” and work supportively with Poland’s government.

The Minister vowed to forge a “new equilibrium” that would challenge the traditional pro-EU axis between Paris and Berlin, saying, "The Europe that will be born in June will have a different pace compared to the one of today, which is guided by bureaucrats." Speaking alongside his Polish counterpart, Joachim Brudzinski, he continued to say, "In Europe, one has always spoken about a French-German axis. We are preparing for a new equilibrium and a new energy in Europe. And Poland and Italy will be the protagonists of this new European spring, of this rebirth of true European values." Echoing former chief strategist to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Minister Salvini said that some E.U. leaders tried to deny Europe's "Judeo-Christian origins.”

Minister Salvini and the Polish government are both in opposition to illegal migration and criticize the E.U.’s ability via Brussels to impose rules on national budgets. During his visit to Poland, Minister Salvini was highly critical of a deal reached during the day to allow 49 migrants to disembark from two non-governmental organization (NGO) rescue ships in Malta. He said he was opposed to the E.U.-brokered deal, saying that it would only encourage human traffickers in Libya to smuggle more migrants across the sea.

I am, and I will remain, absolutely against any new arrivals in Italy. I will continue to work to expel the far too many illegals who are already in this country. To give in to pressure and threats from Europe and from the NGOs is a sign of weakness that is not worthy of the Italian people,” he wrote on Twitter, his position at odds with Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s prime minister, who welcomed an end to the impasse.

Additionally, the right-wing political party Vox agreed to support a conservative/center-right coalition with Ciudadanos in the formation of a regional government in Andalusia, Spain, the country’s most populous region. Twelve of Vox’s candidates won election in December, against expectations that the traditional stronghold for the Socialist Party would prevail. In return for its support, Vox made a 37-point agreement with the conservative People’s Party (PP) that includes commitments to tackle illegal immigration, reduce regional taxes, and combat Islamic fundamentalism. “Today illegal immigration and corruption lose (...) and the Andalusians, the defense of the family and a more pluralistic politics win,” said Vox Deputy Leader Javier Ortega. “The Andalusians have chosen a government of change to put an end to 40 years of awful socialist policies, and (PP coalition leader Juanma Moreno) is not going to let them down,” PP Leader Pablo Casado wrote on Twitter.

Further elections will be held in Spain this year, with polls showing that the right of center political parties could also win seats in other parts of the country.