The regional elections taking place this Sunday in Calabria and Emilia-Romagna are crucial for Matteo Salvini. If he conquers Emilia, a powerful historic bastion of the left, the head of the far-right League will mark a decisive point in his reconquest of power. He will demand from the populist left center-left coalition in power, weakened by internal crises, early parliamentary elections. To this end, the Captain, who assumes Mussolini postures, led a brutal campaign.
Who would have imagined in France a political party going to campaign in Outreau in the middle of the affair of the same name? In Italy, Matteo Salvini, the head of the Lega (League, far right), dared. He even made the Bibbiano affair, a child trafficking and sexual abuse scandal involving elected Democrat Party (PD, center-left) elected officials, a major theme in his campaign for regional elections. It was in this gloomy village of Emilia-Romagna, stigmatized throughout Italy by this scandal on which justice is still being investigated, that the Capitano - the captain, nickname of Salvini - held Thursday evening l 'one of his last meetings. As bizarre as it is overwhelming.
In Mr. Loyal of social distress, the former Minister of the Interior scrolls on the scene, adorned with a poster "Do not touch the children", of the victimized parents. He embraces each of them, encourages them to tell their story. A sexologist, whose companion was murdered, and who was immediately deprived of her parental rights, describes her long fight to recover her 14-year-old daughter, automatically placed by social services in a family "friend of powerful ”.
There followed an unemployed couple, from whom their little girl had been "uprooted" at the age of 3 for poverty. Then a nurse, "neither drugged, nor drunkard nor delinquent", she shouts the broken voice, she who does not have the right to see her 11 year old daughter, entrusted to a foster family because of litigation with her ex-spouse, "only an hour an month". Accused, doctors, social workers and city officials - including the mayor -, who would have formed a real "network", "with a lot of money at stake," accuses Matteo Salvini.
"He is the most honest, the least buffoon in Italy"
"Ver-go-gna, ver-go-gna! - shame, shame - shouts the crowd, tears in their eyes and fogging in their mouths because of the cold, from 2000 to 3000 people on the Place de la République. "Mat-te-oo, Mat-te-oo", she chants when the Captain, strapped in his padded sweatshirt, takes the microphone. “The children belong to mom and dad, not the state or the bureaucracy. But this is the judges' business, not Salvini's? "I want the toddlers to be returned to their families, and this man can do it," answers Patrizia, ex-kindergarten teacher, who traveled 100 km to attend the meeting. He is the most honest, the least buffoonish of Italy: when he gives his word, he keeps it ”.
If the League has taken hold of the affair, it is because it symbolizes, in the eyes of the most humble but also of conspiracies of all stripes, this omnipotence of the political-media "establishment" which would have long stifled the scandal. The slogan "Tell us about Bibbiano" has flourished everywhere. It became the automatic argument of Salvini and his regional candidate for governor, Lucia Borgonzoni, as soon as their electoral rivals tried to tackle other themes.
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The left, which has held this historic fief of Emilia-Romagna since the end of the Second World War and the fall of fascism, advances economic success and the advantageous system of public health in the region, one of the richest in the country? "Tell us about Bibbiano," replies the duo, throughout meetings, shows and on social networks.
"At least he puts his nose in everything that doesn't work"
The Sardines, this young citizen movement that arose two months ago in Bologna, the regional capital, on the tune of the song of resistance, "Bella Ciao", they call to "respect the intelligence and the dignity of the voters "? "Tell us about Bibbiano", the "signora" Borgonzoni is up to them. This senator from the League, recently parachuted from the north, knows the region so badly that she has proposed "to open hospitals there even on Saturdays and Sundays, as in Lombardy". Health professionals, between laughter and tears of rage, have promised not to send their patients to the streets on Friday evenings…
It takes more to discourage supporters of the "Capitano". "Him at least, he puts his nose in everything that does not work in the country," says Valeria, coquette sexagenarian blonde platinum. This food worker, a resident of Parma, took her day off to come and see Salvini, with her friend Olga, a retiree "forced to do hours of cleaning on the right or on the left because she does not remember not go out with his meager pension ”.
What is not working? "Insecurity is terrible," exclaims Valeria. I don't go out alone in Parma in the evening. All these drug addicts, these people who beg ... I am not a racist, but immigration is really uncontrolled. And the law protects them, them and not us! The other day, there was one who robbed a house, but the watchdog bit him. Well, the thief complained, and the owner had to compensate him, ”she chokes.
"For us, it's Salvini or the revolution"
When he was the strongman of the government, before being ejected from it last summer following his own fault in political tactics and a reversal of alliance of the 5-star Movement (M5S, populist on the left) in Profit of the PD, Matteo Salvini had issued a security decree tightening the immigration and security policy.
"Today, the left and the Sardines want its repeal," growls Marco, a former carabinier with robust shoulders and a martial tone. They want to kill the Captain, they are even putting him on trial for having prohibited migrant boats from entering our ports. But he defends the Italians, while this illegitimate government sells the country to the banks. He knocks us out of taxes and lies down before the powerful in Europe, Germany and France. You will see, we too are going to have our yellow vests ... but with the guillotine in addition! For us, it's Salvini or the revolution, ”the retired gendarme gets excited, waving the Lega flag.
"Salvini is a man of the people, we like him because he is like us," says Vittorio, 23. Looking for a job, he is a member of the Youth League, where he "provides training in politics". "Identity and traditions, these are our values ... and also less bureaucracy," he explains. Her colleague Alessia agrees. At 22, she runs her business. "I produce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, the local specialty sold all over the world," she smiles ... before frowning. “Europe wants to put us under surveillance, to impose new standards. But in Bibbiano, parmesan cheese has been made since time immemorial, we know that it is very caloric, no one has ever died, ”she says.
Facing the "capitano", the Sardines
Salvini's victory in Emilia, after having robbed his other Umbrian stronghold in the left in November, would be a political earthquake. He has sworn, if he wins, to go deliver this Monday to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte - pale figure of a dying M5S - and to his PD allies a "notice of expulsion". Before demanding early parliamentary elections in order, he hopes, to regain power in Rome. Hence this muscular style campaign. As when, playing the sheriff, jacket branded "Polizia", he will ring the intercom of alleged dealers in a popular area of Bologna, telling the occupants to come down, under the eye of the cameras. "I want to erase the dealers from the face of the earth in this country," he insists. You know that they go so far as to offer mini-doses of cocaine at € 5 a sachet, which they sell when they leave school? I will go find them school after school, to throw them in prison ”.
Did he fold the match in Emilie? Nothing is less sure. If the discredited political parties have abandoned the "Piazza" - the public square, the place of debate in Italy - to the far-right tribune, the Sardines are resisting. "People, children, young and old, take to the streets, they draw a fish, color it and take it to the piazza," says Stefano Gareffa, 32, co-founder of the movement. And then the Sardines, at home or at work, tell the other fish that by hugging against each other, we can defeat the Pirate. That we can participate, debate complex problems of the region and the State, without being content with slogans like "Bibbiano" or "Close the ports".
In Bibbiano, Thursday, thousands of Sardines, with musical instruments in addition to the signs, had also gathered in a square. Meanwhile, 200m away, "Selfini" - Salvini's other nickname - lined up the selfies with his supporters, waiting in the cold for three quarters of an hour. "Bella ciao" against selfies, the shock of two Italy.