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8 Jan, 2019 15:58

‘Sweep your own door’: French minister bashes Italian politicians for Yellow Vest support

‘Sweep your own door’: French minister bashes Italian politicians for Yellow Vest support

France’s minister for European affairs hit back at Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Five-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio after they expressed support for the Yellow Vests.

Interior Minister and Northern League leader Matteo Salvini threw his support behind France’s anti-government Yellow Vest demonstrators on Monday, saying that he supports “honest citizens who protest against a governing president [who is] against his people.”

Vice-President of the Council of Ministers of Italy Luigi Di Maio, who is the leader of the Five-Star Movement (M5S), urged the demonstrators on his party’s blog “not to weaken,” and said that establishment politics in Europe “has become deaf to the needs of citizens who have been kept out of the most important decisions affecting the people.”

The Italians made their comments as France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe responded to the eighth consecutive weekend of rioting and street protests by announcing a massive increase in police presence and a crackdown on unauthorized protests. The protesters, furious at President Macron’s pro-business policies and apparent elitism, responded with derision.

“PM promises more arrests? We want more purchasing power!”tweeted Communist party secretary Fabien Roussel. Another Yellow Vest protester tweeted“I am ashamed of my France for this repression. Long live the yellow vests!”

France’s Minister for European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, gave Salvini and Di Maio a telling off for commenting on her nation’s state of affairs, saying her government would never stoop so low.

“France refrains from giving lessons to Italy,” she tweeted. “Salvini and Di Maio should learn to sweep their own doorstep.”

That Loiseau would toe her government’s line is not surprising. As Paris burned and anti-government demonstrations entered their third month last weekend, the minister tweeted a bevy of messages proclaiming her steadfast support for the European Union and euro currency; defending her government’s work fighting poverty; and accusing protesters of “hatred of the Republic and democracy.”

She also found time to suggest that French citizens should crowdfund the country’s riot police, as they did the former champion boxer who sparred with armored officers in Paris on Saturday.

So, with everything completely fine in France, the Italians should keep their advice to themselves from now on?

Unlikely. Macron and his supporters like Loiseau are about as far from Salvini and Di Maio as possible on the political spectrum. Riding into power as an unashamed Europhile, and ‘radical centrist’ in 2017, Macron has since drawn criticism for his pomposity and self-described “Jupiterian” style of rule.

Salvini and DiMaio, on the other hand, are populists and Euroskeptics, whose rejection of the EU orthodoxy – particularly on immigration – swept their parties to victory last year.

‘Sweep your own door’: French minister bashes Italian politicians for Yellow Vest support

Since then, neither side has held back their criticism of the other. Most recently, in December, Salvini mocked the French president as a “lab mouse elected to keep the elitist political system in place.”

Earlier last summer, Macron accused Salvini of “cynicism and irresponsibility,” after the Italian government turned away the Aquarius, a French charity ship carrying migrants plucked from the Mediterranean. Several months later, Salvini called Macron an “international embarrassment,” after French policemen were spotted dropping apprehended migrants off in an Italian forest along the countries’ shared border.

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