by Daniele Scalea

Di Maio quits the Five Star Movement

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has officially left the 5-Star Movement, of which he was the "political leader" for a two-year period between late 2017 and early 2020, coinciding with the triumphant 2018 elections and arrival in government. In spite of his previous lectures against the turncoat MPs, the Pomigliano d'Arco politician announced the creation of a new party, "Together for the Future." Immediately sarcastically renamed by critics "Together for the third term," the one that the 5 Star Movement's statute would have forbidden Di Maio and friends.

Di Maio: One, No One and One Hundred Thousand

Naturally, the minister tried to put forward higher motives: "Italy's stature and credibility," not giving space to "hatred, populism, sovereignty, extremism," and "choosing sides in history" against Putin. Motivations, however, which led one to wonder if, until yesterday, it was not another Di Maio who was among the M5S leadership for years. Perhaps it was not the same Di Maio who as head of the M5S stood in elections advocating a Europe of sovereign states "in a multipolar world at last," Italy's disarmament, rapprochement with Russia, and the unconstitutionality of NATO membership.

Di Maio is justifying his farewell to the M5S led by Giuseppe Conte with the latter's lack of enthusiasm for supporting Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian attack. Today Foreign Minister Di Maio calls Russian President Putin "more heinous than any beast," but three years ago Economic Development Minister Di Maio was catching likes by posting his photo with the Kremlin overlord. The same Economic Development Minister Di Maio was making himself the protagonist of an unusual strategic rapprochement of Italy with China.

Serving the entente with China for years

At the time, Di Maio was not only the Minister of Economic Development holder, but also the vice-premier and political leader of the main party in the governing majority. On the strength of that role he devised and promoted the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the People's Republic of China. A diplomatic rapprochement that for Di Maio was meant to get more Sicilian oranges to China, while for the Chinese - endowed with greater strategic concreteness - it was functional in creating a bridgehead in Europe, as the Centro Studi Machiavelli endeavored to demonstrate at the time. (For the curious: in 2019, oranges worth 162 thousand euros arrived in China; Spain, without any MoU with Beijing, exported 32 million of them there in the same year).

With "President Ping" (as he memorably called him at a press conference) Di Maio has had a special relationship for years. Photos with him are wasted, in which Di Maio sports a toothy smile. Promoted to foreign minister, the Pomigliano politician was the protagonist of openly extolling Communist China during the early stages of the pandemic, when - while aware of their scarcity in Italy - he gave Beijing large quantities of medical devices. In July 2020, meeting with his Chinese counterpart, he promised him that Italy would serve as a "bridge" between China and the West.

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The moralist friend of the most heinous of regimes

Not exactly the credentials of an ironclad Atlanticist. But proven proof of Luigi Di Maio's hypocrisy. The man who abandons M5S in order not to be "ambiguous" against the hated Putin has never had a problem cooing with Xi Jinping and his thugs. That is, with the leader and henchmen of a communist regime in comparison to which Putin's Russia would appear liberal and democratic. A regime that has implemented a system of "social credit" that would impress even Orwell. A regime that has brutally suppressed residual freedoms in Hong Kong. A regime that uses political prisoners as a stockpile of organs to be explanted as needed. A regime that has created a mass concentrationary system in Xinjiang, with systematic torture, gang rape, violent indoctrination, forced sterilization of an ethnic minority.

Luigi Di Maio not only had no scruples to smilingly shake hands with the perpetrators of these crimes; he also expressed a definite willingness to create a strategic understanding between Italy and China and followed it up with concrete actions. This Di Maio wants us to believe today that he would act moved by moral impulses and dedication to the West. At least until the next opportunity to serve his "President Ping..."

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Founder and President of Centro Studi Machiavelli. Graduated in Historical Sciences (University of Milan) and PhD in Political Studies (Sapienza University), he is professor of "History and doctrine of jihadism" and "Geopolitics of the Middle East" at Cusano University. From 2018 to 2019 he was Special Advisor on Immigration and Terrorism to the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Guglielmo Picchi. His latest book (as editor) is Topicality of sovereignism. Between pandemic and war.