Humanosity says…Matteo Salvini Italy’s former Interior Minister believed he was about to become one of Europe’s most powerful far-right leaders. He collapsed the coalition government he was part of. Riding high in the polls what happened next wasn’t in his script.
Giuseppe Conti made his living not in politics but as a law professor.
He was one of 90 people on staff at the university law school, with a reputation as being mild-mannered and formal. Then, in May 2018 he was pulled from the ranks of academia to become Italy’s figurehead prime minister, a neutral – and intentionally obscure – arbiter for the two ambitious politicians joining their parties in a coalition.
A moderate he seemed ill at ease in the coalition between Matteo Salvini’s nationalists and the populists of the 5 Star Movement. However, when the coalition fell apart as Salvini sought to cash in polls that showed his popularity rising, Conte didn’t retreat back to academia.
Rather than returning to the University of Florence, where his nameplate remains on his office door, Conte engineered a bid to stay on as prime minister and lead a new government that better fits his moderate political views – this time while gaining broader power for himself.
It seems that the quiet mild-mannered academic quickly mastered his new craft during the year he was head of the coalition and outmanoeuvred his supposedly more politically savvy colleagues – Salvini in particular. The result sees him head of a new more moderate coalition and earning grudging respect from many Italian voters who like his sober low key style.