Sunday, 4 March 2018

The League of Ordinary Non-Gentlemen

Today, Italians go to the polls. Immigration has become the key issue which automatically means that the radical right has a party programme: Italians first. The party Lega Nord per l'Indipendenza della Padania (The Northern League) was founded by Umberto Bossi who in 2017 was sentenced to two years and three months' imprisonment for using hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds to pay personal expenses. Former Northern League treasurer Francesco Belsito was sentenced to two years and six months. Umberto Bossi's son Renzo, by the way, was also convicted and given a sentence of one year and six months (via and via and via).

The founder of this party is the man who married in 1975, aged 35, and promised his wife to finish his university studies soon. After all, he was not really working and his mother was paying for his studies, so he had to hurry. In 1979, he told everyone that he had finally received his doctorate degree and would soon start to work as a doctor at the hospital Del Ponte in Varese. His proud wife bought him a beautiful brown briefcase which he left with every morning when he went to work, at the hospital, as a doctor. One day in 1981, in the meantime he had obtained his second degree, his wife went to university where - surprise, surprise - she learned that her wonderful husband had never finished his studies and never worked as a doctor (via and via). His son Renzo, of course, is completely different. Okay, he was charged with embezzlement too but at least he really got a degree. In fact, it was a bachelor's degree in Economics and Management at Kristal University in Albania. In 2013, Renzo Bossi was charged with corruption in Albania because "he earned a degree in social sciences without spending a single day in university. He has never been in Albania and he doesn't know the language" (via and via).
Now, the party's leader is Matteo Salvini. He studied at the University of Milan, never graduated but at least never pretended to have. Salvini was also involved in Bossi's fraud (via), he is a strong supporter of the football team A.C. Milan (which - what a coincidence - was owned by Berlusconi until last year), he supports Trump, opposes the embargo against Russia and same-sex marriage ... because, you know, traditional family values. He is the man who is going to rescue Italy by suggesting the introduction of segregation in public transport with reserved seats for "real" citizens of Milan but also for women to protect them from savage immigrants who he is going to deport as he is about to start a "controlled ethnic cleansing" (via and via).
This is not about the right, the left, or the centre. This is a party that offers no solution to any problem. Instead, it rides on the current wave of populist nationalism telling people how unfairly they are treated, that they themselves are not part of the so-called system but concerned about "the people" who they are fighting for making sure Italians get what they deserve. It is only about gaining votes with a rhetoric the world has not yet got tired of. This is also about a lack of style, class, and diplomacy in politics.

images via