Di Maio Cheers On France's Yellow Vests to Needle Macron
(Bloomberg) -- Italian Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio gave his support to the Yellow Vest protesters roiling France as his anti-establishment Five Star Movement seeks foreign allies ahead of next May’s European Parliament elections.
“The French are demanding change and greater attention to their needs,” Five Star leader Di Maio said in a Facebook post Monday. “I share these desires, I don’t think there is anything offensive toward French citizens.”
France said Di Maio should mind his own business.
“The priority for the Italian government is to look after the well-being of the Italian people," French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said in Brussels, Tuesday. "I’m not sure what being interested in the Yellow Vests has to do with the well-being of the Italians.”
The governments in Paris and Rome have been regularly sniping at each other since the populist coalition took power in Italy last year with budget spending and immigration proving the main points of contention.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is also deputy premier and head of the anti-immigrant League, said Monday he supports “honest citizens who protest against a president who governs against his people.” He also condemned the violence that’s accompanied many of the Yellow Vest protests.
Salvini and Di Maio are both trying to position themselves to capture the euroskeptic vote in May’s EU elections while Macron aims to rally establishment parties that want greater EU integration. Salvini will meet Polish populist leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Warsaw on Wednesday.
Newspaper la Repubblica reported earlier Tuesday that Di Maio may meet leaders of the Yellow Vests in Rome Saturday. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Monday said the government will take new measures to deter violence against police and damage to property after an eighth consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.
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