This is late going to print because over the weekend I wanted to personally see for myself how League militants, supporters and the general public reacted to Mr. Salvini after his misguided abandonment of the “Government for Change”. So, along with 4 bus loads of other people like myself from the province of Modena, I made the more than two-hour journey to Pontida a Lombard town just north of Bergamo in the foothills of the Alps not far from breathtaking Bellagio on the banks of Lake Como, where one of the first Lombard Kings of Italy Liutprand decided to bed down and claim as his Capital.
His descendants true to Lombard if not modern Italian tradition are determined to implement their hard-won autonomia (from Rome). What they want is nothing less than the self-governing statutes afforded the five Autonomous Regions of Aosta, Sardinia, Sicily, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the two self-governing provinces of Trento and Bolzano which together make up the Region of the Trentino-Alto Adige (South Tyrol). I believe and have written in this very blog that given the growing hostility of Italians towards their dysfunctional Unitary State, the Authorities would be wise to extend Bolzano and Trento-styled autonomy to all of Italy’s provinces transforming all into self-governing provinces. And this, before the centrifugal forces of self-determination tear asunder the increasingly unpopular centralization of the so-called “Unitary State”.
Pontida took place on Sunday, September 15. We arrived in Bergamo around 10 am right, on schedule. From Bergamo to Pontida only 8 kms away however took all of the next two Hours as our 4 buses were forced to line up behind hundreds of other buses from all over Italy. By the time we arrived at our assigned parking lots and had made our way to the huge field where ever since the first “Pontida” back in 1989, League leaders regularly rally and address their followers, it was High Noon.
As one speaker after the other addressed a crowd that at one point swelled to 70,000 people, I made my way to one of the “watering holes” for a porchetta sandwich and beer.
More interested in the mood of the crowd than what each individual speaker had to say, I realized that Salvini was still “the Man”, the “Capitano” of the League. None of the speakers dared attack him for throwing in the towel and walking out on the “Government for Change”. Not today, not at Pontida.
So much for the Leaders, but would the crowd show its displeasure by whistling or booing when Salvini later took the podium to address his people? No chance of that my friends. Not at Pontida! Au contrarire, Mr. Salvini received a roaring welcome and cheers of approval from his people for having said no to Di Maio and Conte. By their presence and boisterous support the “Leaguers” at Pontida ratified Salvini’s conduct, his migration policies and bid for early elections, which in parliamentary systems is anything but automatic. And yes, self-government statutes for themselves and all other Italians not afraid to say “no thank you” to centralization and the Stato Unitario.