Matteo Salvini is Giorgia Meloni’s main coalition partner in the right-wing coalition leading in the polls ahead of Italy’s snap general election on Sunday.
His Northern League party is allied with Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy and Silvio Berlusconi’s Go Italy movement.
If the bloc does triumph, it will likely be a bittersweet moment for Salvini who has seen his position as the undisputed leader of the right usurped by Meloni.
“It would be a pride, a joy, a thrill for me if you and President Sergio Mattarella chose me as prime minister of this extraordinary country,” Salvini told thousands of flag-waving supporters in Pontida, his party’s spiritual home, last week.
Melona’s Brothers of Italy party is projected to win around 25 percent of the vote, while the League is estimated at around 12 percent, down from 34 percent in the 2019 European Parliament elections.
The Northern League was originally rooted in the wealthy north, and then leader Umberto Bossi demanded secession from the poorer south.
Salvini, 49, rebuilt the party from near collapse when he took office nine years ago, replacing old battle cries for independence with the slogan “Italians first” and replacing anti-Rome chants with insults directed at Brussels.
His strategy seems to have worked, with the League forming a coalition government in 2018 and Salvini himself becoming interior minister. But a series of political blunders since then has allowed his ally Melona to leapfrog him in the polls.
At the beginning of the meeting, the ministers and regional governors of the League officially committed to giving more autonomy to the regions and striving to reduce taxes and energy bills.
They also promised to lower the retirement age, stop the landing of immigrants and improve the justice system.
In his speech, Salvini promised to abolish the 90-euro tax that Italians pay annually to fund the state-run RAI television and to revitalize small villages by making them a property tax-free zone.