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    Italian Deputy Prime Minister and League leader Matteo Salvini arrives for a news conference at the Senate upper house parliament building in Rome, Italy March 8, 2019

    Salvini on Time's 100 List: From City Councillor to Leader of Eurosceptics

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    Matteo Salvini has been featured on Time magazine's top 100 most influential people list for 2019. After rising to power only last spring Salvini's anti-migrant and Eurosceptic policies have propelled him to become one of Italy's most influential politicians.

    The leader of Italy's right-wing League party, Minister of the Interior, Deputy Prime Minister and, according to many, the most influential member of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's government, took charge of the party when it had 4% of the vote, and now, according to recent polls, would get 30% if elections were held today.

    The rise of Salvini from a city councilor to being Deputy Prime Minister and the leading figure of the European sovereignty movement has to do with several factors. His personal style of direct communication, an elaborate media strategy involving social media platforms, TV appearances, and participation in local events, a tough stance on several key issues that are very important to Italian voters — migration, the EU, and pensions. And in Europe, his party is seen as the standard bearer for protecting the political sovereignty of European countries.

    Who is Matteo Salvini? How does his communications machine work? What has he brought to Italian politics?

    YouTrend's Giovanni Diamanti and Lorenzo Pregliasco have answered these questions in a book titled — "The Salvini Phenomenon. Who is he, how does he communicate, why do people vote for him" (Castelvecchi, 2019).

    Sputnik has spoken about Mr Salvini's rise with one of the authors of the book — Giovanni Diamanti.

    Sputnik: How and why did the phenomenon of Mr Salvini occur?

    Giovanni Diamanti: First of all, the fact is that Salvini has talent and charisma. But beyond that, in Italy we are experiencing a moment of tremendous distrust in politics, which is making Italians look for new solutions.

    READ MORE: France's National Rally to Discuss EU Right-Wing Alliance With Salvini — Member

    In the past 5 years, we have witnessed several revolutionary electoral changes: first people voted for the Five Star Movement in 2013, then for the Democratic Party in 2014 (Matteo Renzi), and in 2018 we saw the League's growth in the south (Before Salvini, the party Northern League, as it was called, accused the country's poorer south of trying to live at the expense of Italy's rich and industrialised north — Sputnik).

    Sputnik: Salvini is a man who knows how to seize the moment. He first took charge of a party that had 4% of the vote and today it has 32-35%. What, in your opinion, are the reasons behind his success?

    Giovanni Diamanti: First of all, it is a strong leader who managed to seize the moment and draw in voters when society turned to the right. Also Salvini cleverly and skillfully uses mass media and social media, for example, live broadcasts.

    His ideas relate to those of the right, but he presents them as just simple common sense, not an ideology. Moreover, he created a party in his own image and likeness, rebranding the League, changing the name of the party and the logo to win sympathy in the south of the country.

    In addition, the party has largely won great support due to its stance on migration policy.

    Sputnik: How does Salvini's League communications machine work? What are its strengths?

    Giovanni Diamanti: For successful communication, you need to be aware of what is happening in the media every day and avoid sharp corners.

    Salvini is excellent at avoiding uncomfortable topics. In addition, Salvini pays special attention to the so-called "quick response policy", when communication with voters is maintained 24 hours a day. As we can see, that's how Salvini keeps in touch with the Italian people, skillfully using social media.

    READ MORE: Italy's Salvini Says He's Under Investigation Again Over Migrant Case

    As Salvini's PR agent Luca Morisi explains, the principles of Salvini's communication strategy are appearing on TV programmes, an active presence on social media and participation in local events (Salvini is everywhere, he does not miss a single chance to shine).

    Sputnik: Is the success of Salvini his own work or his PR manager's, or is there a whole team of communication specialists whom we just don't see?

    Giovanni Diamanti: Salvini has a highly professional team led by Luca Morisi. However, I believe that strong leaders are successful precisely because they are strong leaders.

    *Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Related:

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    Italy's Salvini Says He's Under Investigation Again Over Migrant Case
    EXCLUSIVE: 'My Only Purpose Is to Save Europe' – Salvini to Sputnik
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    eurozone, migration, Migrant Crisis, Matteo Salvini, Italy
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