The first "European clash" between Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini and Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio, ahead of the European elections in May, has come over the topic of migrants. The disagreement came from the situation of 49 migrants aboard two ships off the coast of Malta, who haven't been given a port for landing.
Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini and Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio are facing their first "European" disagreement, over the topic of migrants, ahead of European elections coming in May.
Salvini, of the rightwing populist League party, is seeking to consolidate his sovereignist position, while Di Maio, of the 5-Star Movement (M5S), has taken a step back and positioned himself closer to the European right and socialist parties.
The clash is purely political, despite the fact that it stems from the current situation of 49 migrants who are languishing off the coast of Malta on two NGO migrant rescue ships that have not been given a port for landing. In recent days, neither of the two leaders has essentially addressed the situation.
'EU don't leave us on our own'
Di Maio's move, backed by Premier Giuseppe Conte, thus far hasn't managed to produce any concrete results. However, on an internal level, it served to subdue dissent that had already been building, after local mayors expressed opposition to the security decree that was recently passed into law.
One example of this came in the form of a post by Lower House Speaker Roberto Fico, who on Facebook wrote, "An important sign, but now the EU mustn't leave us on our own". According to M5S, Fico and Di Maio have been in constant contact in recent days. Sources said there is another goal in Di Maio's move - that of halting Salvini's "takeover" of migrants by hitting him on one of the issues closest to him. M5S sources said it is no coincidence that Di Maio's media "blitz" on migrants came just days after League attacks on M5S.
Alliances for European elections
This week, Salvini is scheduled to travel to Poland to sign a pact with Jaroslaw Kaczyński, leader of the country's Law and Justice party. The pact is part of a larger aim together with counterpart sovereignist political groups in the Netherlands, Sweden, and France, to create a significant group in the European Parliament in which Salvini wants to have a decisive role.
A possible blitz in Brussels by Di Maio in the coming days is still unconfirmed. In the European elections, M5S is aiming at an alliance with recently formed parties, unconnected to sovereignists and the Party of European Socialists. However, it still hasn't denied a possible axis with the European Greens, who have thus far remained skeptical about M5S's proposal.