Paris / Rome – On Tuesday, Luigi Di Maio, the Italian Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Five Star Movement (M5S) met the ‘Yellow Vest’ protestors in France. The current Italian government is nationalist with a strong anti-immigrant stand. French President Macron has repeatedly clashed with it over the migrant crisis. Against the background, a leader from the Italian government meeting the agitators becomes significant. It would cause the tensions between Italy and France to reach boiling point, indicate analysts.
The Yellow Vests movement against French President Emmanuel Macron continues for the third successive month while the repercussions are being felt in other European states as well. European governments as also the leading political groups have given their support to the agitation and Italy is at its forefront. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio have supported the Yellow Vest protests from the very beginning. However, Deputy Prime Minister meeting the agitators when on a visit to France has caused a stir.
The European Parliament election will be held in May and the Five Star Movement leader, Di Maio is attempting to create a right-wing front. Di Maio is, therefore, on tour to different parts of Europe, and hence visited France on Tuesday. He met Christophe Chalencon, a Yellow Vest leader and his associates near Paris. Alessandro Di Battista, a prominent M5S leader, was also present at the meeting.
After the meeting with the Yellow Vest protestors, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Di Maio stated, ‘The wind of change has crossed the Alps. I repeat. The wind of change has crossed the Alps’. The Italian Deputy Prime Minister claimed there were quite a few issues and values common between them. They included the security of the ordinary citizen, social rights, direct democracy, and environment.
The French and the Italian governments have clashed over issues that include the immigrant policies, managing the economy and regulations, as also policies on Russia. A few weeks ago, the Italian government held France responsible for poverty in Africa. Di Maio criticised the French policies regarding Libya calling them incorrect all the same. Furthermore, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini accused French President Macron of being the leader of the group which was welcoming the immigrants into Europe.
Macron too had said that Salvini and Di Maio were his enemies and had asserted that he was ready for a conflict. Even so, Di Maio seems to have given a fitting reply to Macron’s stance by visiting France and meeting the Yellow Vests leaders. Only a few days ago, the former chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had created a sensation with his statement that the anti-establishment Yellow Vests, opposing President Macron in France, were in power in Italy.