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Matteo Salvini. Photo supplied

Leftist mayors rebel against Salvini’s migration security decree

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini insisted on Friday that his migrant and security decree was a State law that must be respected. Salvini is facing a rebellion from leftist mayors who benefit from funding for migrants.

Published: January 6, 2019, 7:58 am

    The party is over for the leftists who benefited from migrant reception business, Salvini explained. “With the (Democratic Party) it was chaos and clandestine migrants, with the League it is order and respect,” he said.

    “Certain mayors look back fondly on the good old times of immigration, but for them too the party is over!”.

    Reports that the DIGOS security police visited Palermo’s registry office after Palermo’s mayor Leoluca Orlando defied Salvini, have surfaced in various media outlets.

    The Sicilian capital’s police chief said that DIGOS has not singled out Orlando because he said he would disobey the decree’s provisions. Orlando is one of 10 mayors who have rebelled against the illegal immigration decree maintaining that it “unfairly” strips asylum seekers of their “rights”.

    The office of the Palermo police chief said the reports were “devoid of all foundation”.

    DIGOS officers questioned registrars about Orlando’s claims that migrants’ Constitutional rights are violated, according to previous reports in the Italian media.

    The office of the mayor told reporters: “They [DIGOS] asked us what happens when we want to regularise the position of an asylum seeker and what procedure we are following”.

    Orlando, for his part, said his rebellion against Salvini’s allegedly “inhuman” migrant clampdown had been “a dutiful institutional act”.

    “Don’t call me a rebel. My action is a dutiful institutional act, against a decree that authoritative men of the Church have described as inhuman”, he said in press interviews.

    Orlando has been joined by other leftist mayors including de Magistris in Naples, Dario Nardella in Florence, and Federico Pizzarotti in Parma.

    Dario Nardella mayor of Florence, said on Friday that Salvini’s description of the rebel mayors as “traitors” was a “grave” issue. Nardella is a member of the leftist opposition Democratic party (PD).

    “I find that in the history of the republic an Interior Minister has never called mayors traitors, those who have been directly elected by their citizens and wear the tricolour sash.

    “You may also not agree with a mayor 100 percent, but calling mayors traitors is a grave institutional issue and also a lack of respect for the citizens who elected them”.

    Meanwhile Deputy Premier and Labour and Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio backed his fellow deputy premier, Salvini, on the decree. Di Maio’s M5s party is the senior government coalition partner.

    Amid reports of some of his 5-Star Movement (M5S) officials “whining” about the decree, Di Maio said any members of the government suffering “unease” over the decree should remember that they voted for it.

    He branded the protest by some leftist mayors against stripping migrants of access to healthcare and other rights “a political boutade” and said if the mayors had taken the trouble of lodging appeals against some of the decree’s provisions, they could be assessed by the Constitutional Court.

    Salvini, leader of the League party, said the decree is a State law which was signed by President Sergio Matteralla. “There’s no row, there’s a State law, signed by the president of the republic and applied by 99 percent of all mayors.”

    “There are 10 mayors who are protesting out of 8 000 across Italy,” Salvini said. He said the mayors who did not agree with him “should resign”, adding that “Orlando and de Magistris, should just quit”.

    Piedmont Governor Sergio Chiamparino meanwhile warned that they were “assessing whether the conditions are right to appeal to the Constitutional Court”. He added “if the juridical conditions are there we won’t waste a moment” to lodge an appeal against the decree.

    Genoa Archbishop and head of European bishops Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco said on Friday that “no one wants to be subversive” about the security decree, “but there are problems that require judgements of conscience”.

    Asked if the decree violated “human rights”, as the rebel mayors claim, Bagnasco said “what I’m concerned about is that people with real needs should find help”.

    The government’s security decree has resulted in a marked drop in asylum requests, the Interior Ministry said on Friday. In December there were 2 753 requests, down 27 percent from November’s 3 784.

    Requests from asylum seekers that were denied rose to 5 870, or 82 percent of the total, compared to 80 percent in November and 74 percent in October.

    So-called “humanitarian protection”, cancelled by the decree, fell to an all-time low, with permits granted to just 3 percent of all applicants in December compared to 13 percent in October.

    Di Maio of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, accused the mayors of indulging in “electoral advertisements”. He said it was “just electioneering on the part of mayors who have to feel a bit leftwing by making a bit of noise”.

    Bari mayor Antonio Decaro, head of the Italian municipalities association ANCI, on Thursday complained that Salvini in the past had called for civil disobedience on civil unions.

    According to Decaro, “a short while ago, before becoming minister, Salvini himself urged mayors to “disobey a State law” on civil unions. “Now he is threatening mayors” for doing the same thing, said the ANCI chief.

    The lack of respect for the law on the part of the mayors who have refused to implement parts of the government’s security and migrant decree is “unacceptable”, sources at the premier’s office said on Thursday.

    “The positions of local administrators who have publicly declared they do not intend to apply a State law are unacceptable,” the sources said.

    “Our juridical system does not give mayors the power to say whether laws are constitutional or not: not applying a law that you don’t like is the same as breaking it, with all the consequent responsibilities”.

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