Who is Matteo Salvini?
Matteo Salvini is an Italian politician who has been serving as the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and the Minister of the Interior since 2018. He became involved in politics while still in school. As a young man, he quickly became an active member of Lega Nord, a right-wing political party demanding greater regional autonomy for the northern regions. At the age of nineteen, he entered the University of Milan, in the same year becoming a city coordinator, earning a place in the city council by the following year. Quickly climbing up the hierarchy, he became a Member of the European Parliament at the age of thirty-one and the secretary of Lega Nord at forty. At forty-five, he became the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior in the 65th cabinet of the Italian Republic. Considered a hardline Eurosceptic politician, he is now busy trying to stop illegal immigrants from entering Italy, declaring the motto “Italian First”. Nicknamed Il Capitano, he is considered the most powerful and prominent man in Italy.
Childhood & Early Life
Matteo Salvini was born on 9 March 1973 in Milan, Italy, into a middle-class family. Not much is known about his background except that his father was a businessman and his mother a homemaker. He also has a younger sister named Barbara.
He completed his schooling from Liceo Alessandro Manzoni, a classical lyceum in Milan, graduating from there in 1992. His teachers remember him as an intelligent boy who could influence his peers. He also participated in extracurricular activities, taking part in game shows like ‘Doppio slalom’ in 1985.
Sometime in the 1980s, while still in school, he became a member of Leoncavallo, a left-wing autonomous social center in Milan. But in 1990, he shifted allegiance to support the right-wing Northern League (Lega Nord).
In 1992, he entered the University of Milan where he studied political science at first before taking up history. Concurrently, he remained active in politics, very soon becoming too engrossed in it to continue his studies.
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In 1990, Matteo Salvini began his career as a member of Movimento Giovani Padani (MGP), the youth faction of Lega Nord, regularly campaigning in squares and markets for it. Although still a school boy, his behavior was comparable to that of a mature politician even at that time.
In 1992, he became MGP’s city coordinator for Milan. In the following year, he became a member of the city council, a position he continued to hold till 2012.
In 1997, he began working as a journalist for his party’s official newspaper, ‘La Padania.’ In October, he participated in the first election to the Padanian Parliament, winning a seat as a Comunisti Padani. In the following year, he was elected Lega Nord’s provincial secretary for Milan.
In 2004, he was elected as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the north-west region. But in 2006, he returned to domestic politics to become the leader of the party at the Milan City Council and the Deputy Secretary of the Lombard League.
In 2008, when a snap general election was declared, he ran for a seat in the lower house of the Parlamento italiano, eventually being elected as a representative of Lombardy I. But he resigned in July 2009, when he was reelected as an MEP.
On June 2, 2012, while still serving as an MEP, he was elected as the Federal Secretary of the Lombard League. On 12 October, he resigned from the office of group leader and city councilor, a position he had held for nineteen years.
In the 2013 general election, he was elected a deputy, but quickly renounced his mandate to continue as a Member of European Parliament, serving as a member of many important committees. In December, he was elected as the leader of Lega Nord.
Under his leadership, the party embraced a more right-wing philosophy. He also became very vocal about illegal immigrants, leading rallies against them in 2015. But a poll debacle in 2016 forced him to take up a more center-rightist view.
Deputy Prime Minister
After the 2018 general election, Matteo Salvini formed a government in coalition with Movimento 5 Stelle (Five Star Movement), being sworn in as the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of the Interior on 1 June 2018. Immediately, he announced that his main aim was to bring down the number of illegal immigrants.
On 10 June 2018, Salvini announced the closure of several Italian ports, denying the disembarkation of MV Aquarius Dignitus, which was carrying more than 600 migrants. On 18 June, he declared a plan to hold a census of Romani people with the aim of deporting those who were there illegally.
In September 2018, he also proposed a series of measures that would partly abolish protection for migrants and suspend the refugee application process for certain categories, making it easier for the government to deport them. The measures, known as the ‘Salvini Decree’, were approved on 24 September.
Equally active on the international front, he is now trying to work with the European Union on issues like migration, insisting on a fairer distribution of refugees. He also favors dropping sanctions against Russia, imposed by the EU after it annexed Crimea.
Family & Personal Life
In 2001 Matteo Salvini married journalist Fabrizia Ieluzzi, having a son named Federico (born 2003) with her. The couple divorced in 2010.
In 2012, he had a daughter Mirta, born from his union with his domestic partner, Giulia Martinelli.
Around 2015, he became engaged to popular television host Elisa Isoardi, but the couple spilt up in November 2018. Currently, he is engaged to Francesca Verdini, daughter of the politician Denis Verdini.