Salvini Indexes His Haters

Germany hates Salvini. Düsseldorf, March 2019.

Nothing will stop Matteo Salvini. That is, if you read the European press, which, day in and day out, cites the Italian deputy premier’s high polling numbers. And, if they feel like adding insult to injury, his number of social media followers, too. Nevermind the veracity of his polling data, especially given the fact that reports have repeatedly indicated he buys social media followers.

What is the story, then? Why do news outlets, even those who don’t especially like Salvini, reiterate what his press officers want you to believe? The answer is that it is coincidental, not a conspiracy. But, the parallel is not innocent, either. It is a reflection of Salvini’s communication strategy. Every criticism of him, particularly the most politically identifiable, are claimed by the neo-fascist as proof of his effectiveness.

It’s a smart tactic, insofar as it constructs the enemy for his followers, as something shrill, predictable and easily overcome. If Matteo Salvini can appropriate his opponents, he can master them. It’s all about communicating his self-confidence, and the fact that even if he does indeed fear his critics, what matters most is telling his minions that his critics fear him. Salvini is never not in the lead, even when he’s behind.

These samples from the deputy premier cum interior minister’s Instagram media feeds are a case in point. And, they are an excellent guide to the breadth and anger at the neo-fascist, and how many Italians do not actually appreciate his presence in the country’s government. Double entendres are like that. They benefit those who rely on them, but they also undermine them, too.


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Che simpaticoni..!!!🤔

A post shared by Matteo Salvini (@matteosalviniofficial) on

The trick is to appreciate how little Salvini respects his followers. He gives the impression of appreciation but always gives the impression he wants to bolt. Salvini looks so pained, so tired of pretending to be happy that he could easily break down and stab everyone around him. If that suggests something psychotic about the Lega chief, it’s meant to. No one who can express such profound hatred towards minorities and migrants can be so loving towards his countrymen.


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In una sede della Lega a Roma minacce con falce e martello… Che paura… Antichi e penosi. Avanti tutta!

A post shared by Matteo Salvini (@matteosalviniofficial) on

Like all authoritarian leaders, the same pathology informs how Matteo Salvini views those he rules over. It’s just a matter of time before they receive the same treatment as migrants. In the interim, Italians are just going to have to believe otherwise. If only Europe’s news media, which is not ignorant of this, would choose to cover the neo-fascist deputy premier differently. It’s like they’d forgotten about democracy.

Screenshot courtesy of Instagram. All rights reserved.