Italy’s Populist Government Is a Marriage of Convenience. How Long Can It Last?

Italy’s Populist Government Is a Marriage of Convenience. How Long Can It Last?
Italian Deputy Prime Ministers Matteo Salvini, right, and Luigi Di Maio during question time at the Chamber of Deputies, in Rome, Feb. 13, 2019 (ANSA photo by Fabio Frustaci via AP Images).

BOLOGNA—Italy’s populist government has been in power for all of 13 months and already speculation is rife about its imminent demise. The stability of this rowdy coalition was in doubt from the moment it was formed. How could the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, or M5S, avoid falling out with its aggressive junior partner, the far-right Lega or League, and its leader, Matteo Salvini?

These doubts only grew when Salvini used his first year in office as interior minister and deputy prime minister to boost his own popularity, campaigning rather than governing. In the European Parliament elections at the end of May, the League took 34 percent of the vote, up from under 18 percent in the March 2018 general elections. The M5S, by contrast, collapsed from 33 percent to 17 percent. The League is now the senior partner in the government, although the M5S still has nearly twice as many seats in parliament.

There are many in the League who want to cash in their chips and try and force new elections this fall. Within the M5S, opposition to party leader Luigi Di Maio, Salvini’s fellow deputy prime minister, is growing more vocal. Key members, notably Alessandro Di Battista, a journalist and writer who casts himself as the conscience of the M5S, have been urging Di Maio to return to the party’s roots as an anti-establishment force.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review