According to a poll, nearly half of Italians say that is was the wrong choice for senators to strip populist leader Matteo Salvini of his immunity as a potential trial against the former interior minister looms.
Forty-three per cent said that it was “wrong” for the chamber to give authorisation for the League (Lega) leader to be put on trial over a 2019 case in which he refused to allow migrants aboard a coastguard vessel to land on Italian soil.
The poll, which was conducted by polling institute EMG, found that a smaller 41 per cent of respondents did support the move to strip Salvini of immunity, with another 16 per cent saying that they preferred not to answer, Il Giornale reports.
26 per cent of supporters of the governing Five Star Movement (M5S) said the affair was completely wrong, as did almost a fifth of even supporters of the left-establishment Democratic Party (PD) which replaced Salvini’s League as the Five Stars’ junior coalition partners.
The looming trial against Salvini relates to a case in the summer of last year when, while still interior minister in the former M5S/League coalition government, he refused to allow 131 migrants on board the Italian coastguard vessel Gregoretti to set foot in Lampedusa.
Catania prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro has argued that the populist senator should be tried for “kidnapping” along with several other charges that could see massive fines enacted. There is also potential prison time for as long as 15 years.
Despite the possible penalties, Salvini has declared that he is looking forward to a trial and that he is not afraid of going to prison.
According to pollster Alessandra Ghisleri, surveyor and director of Euromedia Research, the trial could end up being a polling boon for Salvini, whose League already enjoys the highest polling numbers nationwide.
“The constant attack on a leader turns him into a victim,” Ghisleri said.
“Probably Salvini estimated that, in his opinion, it would have happened anyway, so he had nothing to lose and only to gain by turning it into an election campaign theme.