Address of Matteo Salvini, Deputy Prime Minister of Italy

Good morning, everyone. A journalist just asked me, “So you really came?” I answered, “My word is worth more than a thousand made-up controversies that make no sense, that have no foundation.” 

We’re living in an incredible time. Last night I spent the night with my two children, and I asked myself, who, in 2019, in Italy and in the world, could be bothered by the word “mom” and the word “dad”? If the word “mom” and the word “dad” bothers someone, the problem is theirs, not ours. 

Because really, we’re living in an incredible time. I’m here, not to take anything away from anyone. But I’m here in favor of the future. I see some protestors with their “polite” slogans; I’ve noticed a press campaign, and I’ll say that, as a journalist, once again I’m embarrassed to be a journalist. They speak a mixture of hypocrisy, ignorance, conformism, and political correctness. “Against!” They want everyone to be against. Ah, a vice premier who goes to a congress for families! And then even the Holy Father says, “I share the substance of what’s being said today.” Wow. Imagine that!

I’m for, not against.  I’ll say it again: Everyone can do what they want with their private lives. Everyone can make love to whomever they want, go to dinner with whomever they want, go to the theater with whomever they want, go to the movies with whomever they want. I want to get the state out of stores and professional studios, including the studi di settore; there’s no way I want to bring the state into anyone’s bedroom. Everyone can do what they want in their own homes. 

But my duty and my right—as a dad, as an Italian, as a man, as a minister of the government—is to defend the rights of those who don’t have a voice: the children. My duty is to put children back at the center, so they don’t become victims of the selfishness of grown-ups, or the objects of conflict between adults. The rights of the family need to be changed, yes. Because adults can fight; because a marriage, unfortunately, can end. But the ones who mustn’t be caught in the middle of adult conflicts are the children. The mistakes of adults shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of their children, who need to continue to have a mom, a dad, and grandparents. Not “Parent 1” or “Parent 2.” I am a dad. I am not “Parent 1” or “Parent 2.” 

On that note, I’m gathering report after report after report, because we’ve dismantled the business of illegal immigration, the very thought of which was disgusting—to use, to exploit human beings who are trying to escape, in order to make billions of euros. Now I’m starting to turn my attention to the business of group homes, of family homes, that hold thousands of children hostage just to earn a few bucks. We’re going to go catch them town by town, city by city, because out of 3,000 family homes, a majority of them do a wonderful job, but there are some who don’t let minors go because of the income. And they say I’m the one who kidnaps minors. We’re going to go certify these group homes one by one.

Children must be at the center, children who are born. To women, I want to guarantee the freedom to choose. These so-called feminists intrigue me. If I were a woman, I’d have a hard time with them, women who protest for money. I think there’s an organized tourism business—“I’ll go to Verona for a bit, then Genoa, then Palermo.” It’s the same people, saying the same things, with the same posters. One day it’s the environment, one day it’s the family, another day it’s racism, another day it’s schools, another day it’s justice. It’s good for Verona! Mayor, you can show off your lovely city to some different protestors! 

But back to the feminists, who talk about women’s rights, but are the first to pretend they don’t see the first, the only serious, actual danger in 2019 for rights, for social conquest, for the freedom to work, to speak, to study, to dress the way you want. And this danger is not the World Congress of Families, but Islamic extremism, and that Islamic subculture in which a woman is worth less than nothing. A woman goes around covered in a burka, a woman can’t leave her house, a woman can’t wear a mini-skirt. If she dresses too “Western,” if she thinks too “Western,” if she has fun in ways that are too “Western,” she gets a beating! Not from the dangerous extremists of the World Congress of Families, but from someone who’s allowed in because we want open harbors, because there’s room for everyone.

In my house, there’s neither room nor citizenship for a subculture wherein your god tells you that a woman is worth less than a man. Because in my house, a woman has the same rights and the same obligations as a man. 

We’re not interested in going backwards, of course. In one of my “political” activities—it’s lesser-known because, obviously, the newspapers don’t talk about it—I did my small part back in 2012, together with many other collaborators, to open the crisis pregnancy center of the Vittore Buzzi Children’s Hospital in Milan. Here, a thousand babies have been born who otherwise would not have been born, because a thousand women were able to choose.

It’s important to me that there is freedom of choice. A thousand women, who, because of economic or cultural problems, would have made different choices—thanks to that group of heroes, thanks to those twenty square meters inside the Children’s Hospital of Milan, they’ve made the most beautiful choice: to bring a baby into the world.

I’m here because the biggest crisis we’re facing in Italy isn’t the bond spread or the budget deficit. The biggest crisis is the empty cradles.

As the Vice President of the Council of this country, I want to be judged at the end of my five years (because it will be five years), on the fact that Italians will once again have certainty, have work, and will start having children again. Because a country that doesn’t have children is a country that dies. Hungary is an example. The family must be at the cultural and economic center of a country’s choices. I say this with the utmost respect for some of my “distracted” friends in government, who look at this room as a return to the past. To the contrary, in this room, we’re preparing the future. In this room, we’re looking ahead. We’re not looking backwards. And if talking about mother, father, and children, with the weight of calling oneself Christian, or Catholic, is for losers, then I’m proud to be a loser—who looks to the future as a Christian, as a Catholic, as a dad, and who wants a country that starts to smile and bet on the future once again.

This also means freedom of choice in education. Here with us today is the Minister of Education. I think of the million children who go to semi-private/semi-public schools, and shame on anyone who calls into question the freedom of choice, and the freedom of education, and the work of those teachers, and the choices of those families. There are those who say, “Stop giving money to the private schools!” But they ignore the fact that if you magically took away money from the private schools and closed these thousands of private institutions tomorrow, you’d leave hundreds of thousands of children out in the cold, because the public schools wouldn’t be able to handle it. Before you criticize, inform yourself. 

Freedom. In this room, we’re breathing freedom. And yes, there are different points of view. I’m the last person to be a testimonial for the traditional family. I’m separated, I’m divorced. I’ve made mistakes. But the one who makes mistakes learns from them. I don’t permit myself to judge what other people do. I was reading a sad article—not sad for me, but for the one who wrote it. It was titled, “What’s Salvini Doing at the World Congress of Families?” As though the millions of separated and divorced parents were less qualified to discuss family. On the contrary, we separated and divorced ought to be helped a little more than all the others to maintain a relationship with our children, with our relatives, with their grandparents, with our work. The racism, bigotry, ignorance, and hypocrisy are outside this room today, in the scores of media camped on the steps. Instead, we are working on a fiscal reform that puts the family at the center, to make it a fiscally recognized entity, because unfortunately, in Italy, and in Europe, having children is the doorway to poverty for many people. But having children must not be an undertaking that’s open only to the wealthy; it must be a free choice for whoever feels up to the task.

On the subject of adoptions, I suggest to some of my friends on the left, to some of my friends in government, instead of busying yourselves with various and eventual adoptions—I am doing this, and I hope other ministers, or rather, other members of parliament, are as well—to make adoptions faster and less costly for the 30,000 Italian couples who have been waiting for years to adopt a child in Italy, in Africa, and around the world. 

I’ll allow myself, with respect to everyone’s sensibilities, to state here that as long as I’m around, I will fight against the barbaric and inhumane practice of surrogacy, which disgusts me just to think of it. A woman as an ATM, a microwave oven that cranks out eggs, that cranks out children. This is a perversion: a human, social, and cultural perversion. 

As Minister of the Interior, I’m also proud to have financed the “Safe Schools” initiative. We have stopped hundreds of drug dealers, pushers of death, outside our children’s schools. We seized kilogram upon kilogram of drugs, because those who imagine a society founded solely upon rights, where duties don’t exist, are preparing for a future founded upon anarchy and chaos. Rights must be matched by duties. And on this, I will never change my mind. I’m grateful to the Minister of Education, who, last September, brought back civics as a course of study in our classrooms. Rights without duties don’t work anywhere.

Freedom. Yesterday I was with my two children—a girl and a boy. We must preserve the freedom of a little girl to be a little girl, and of a little boy to be a little boy, without anyone else deciding what’s right or wrong. I’m terrified of intellectual orthodoxy, of a one-size-fits-all consumer—of a single, worldwide muddle without identity, values, and distinctions. A little girl is a little girl, and a little boy is a little boy. Let’s let them play the way children have always played. Because we’re also in the midst of a madness that allows some pseudo-educators who have chosen the wrong line of work to say, “They’ll decide what they are when they’re adults.” What a tragedy! I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but gender theory, in which no distinctions are allowed to exist, is something I’ll fight against as long as I live. Because, fortunately, the good Lord made us different. I’m not saying better and worse, but different.

Therefore, I believe it’s the government’s duty to help mothers and fathers become mothers and fathers more and more often, and more and more comfortably. Here in this room, we don’t want to take the freedom of choice away from others, but instead we’re talking about relieving financial pressure—the IVA tax, for example, on baby products. We want to extend the model of the Lombardy Region to other regions of Italy: Child support for divorced and separated parents, policies in favor of the family, free day care for everyone in Italy. Day care, unfortunately, has become something that’s attainable for only ten percent of Italian families. Here, too, we see classism. Those who can afford it pay a babysitter. Those who are lucky enough to have grandparents, use those grandparents. Those who don’t, don’t have children. At this point, a woman doesn’t give birth for the first time until she’s 32 years old. And they say we’re the ones thinking toward the past! 

I’ll close in the same place I started. Today I was reading two authors. One was George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm, two books that would do well to become required reading in school. We’re living in this dangerous time: intellectual orthodoxy, newspeak, the Ministry of Truth, thought crime, a socialist regime that decides what you do and don’t have a right to think. And today, if someone else were in charge, talking about mothers and fathers would be a thought crime. 

Italians don’t have children because there’s no steady work, but we’re getting them to work. Just today, the editors of Corriere della Sera probably didn’t notice, and I thank them for it—because today, they had a headline that was, for once, very accurate, that says: Thanks to Quota 100, 116,000 Italian young people will start working, will be able to start families and have children—116,000 people with stable jobs, thanks to our pension reform, will be able to build a future for themselves. The editors didn’t notice that this headline was in our favor. I think the headline came in late; maybe it slipped through their fingers, but no matter—we’ll take what the good Lord gives us without making faces about it.

Because what is the motive, ill-concealed as it is, of certain people?  “The Italians don’t have babies; no problem! We’ll send you twenty-somethings by the shipload!” They come pre-packaged. They have no culture; they have no identity; they have no roots. They have no past, so they have no present; they have no future.  

I’m all for diversity. That’s why I hope to go back to Ghana soon, to invest some real money to help those children, and those young people, not to run away from their country, but to have an honest future in their own country, without being uprooted, deported, or used as meat to be butchered. 

Last year, less than half the number of babies were born in Italy compared to the number born in 1975. Less than half. Now, we don’t want a new baby boom, but that’s the economic, social, and cultural data that we have both the right and the obligation to work with. So I thank you, and I hope what we want is very clear to the world that’s watching us—but then I already know that tonight, the newscasts will fabricate whatever they want. It’s for this reason, however, that I’m thankful for the fact that, in 2019, thanks to the Internet, Italians and citizens all over the world can inform themselves directly, passing over the rigged information that comes out of the newsrooms of newspapers-for-hire, who find it in their interests to report only what’s convenient for them. 

I’ll close with a thought from one other author—moving from Orwell to G.K. Chesterton. And this line, although written over 100 years ago, seems as though it were written yesterday: “Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four.”

Consider me on your side, with each of us maintaining our distinctions. I did not come here to Verona today looking for votes. I don’t care about votes. I care about building a society and a community with the values that will give this country a future. I care about trust; I care about the responsibility that you are giving us. I thank the good Lord for these nine months as Minister of the Interior, which is the greatest gift the good Lord and the Italian people could have given me. I hope to carry out this assignment with dignity, with honesty, and with courage. Let it be known that if my country and the future of our children need defending, there’s no threat, no court case that will hold me back. I’m moving ahead like a freight train, and I won’t let anyone stand in my way. I’m not afraid of anyone or anything. 

I’m grateful to Verona. I’m grateful to the mayor. I’m grateful to those who had the courage to act as sponsors. This experience has been surreal, with journalists asking me, “Salvini, are you seriously going to Verona?” Not even if someone went to a congress of purse snatchers, or of serial molesters, would there have been such a reaction. We’re talking about families, mothers and fathers, and our opponents think we’re insane. “The Middle Ages, losers, the extreme right . . . ” 

But good God, I don’t believe in distinctions like left, right, fascist, or communist anymore. We’re in 2019. There are no more fascists—communists, yes. They still go around with a hammer and sickle and a red flag. Yet those who talk about mothers and fathers are the problem?

So I thank all of you because you are that avant garde, that nucleus, that breach keeping the flame kindled that represents 99.9% of the community that the good Lord—both for believers and unbelievers—has placed on this earth. 

And so, as a Minister, as a man, as a dad with a thousand defects, a thousand limits, who in his relationships has made—and will make—a series of incredible mistakes, I am fighting, and I will fight, to the end that Europe and Italy once again place woman, man, and child at the center, and that there might be a future on this continent that’s not one of consumers, of intellectual orthodoxy, of one-size-fits-all food, of one-size-fits-all congresses, of one-size-fits-all TV. This uniform thinking is terrible. Long live differences! Long live varied types of beauty! Long live that which makes us, not better or worse, but human beings—sentient, conscious, and distinct from one another! Count on me to defend the right to life, the right to freedom of choice, freedom of education. Long live freedom! And let’s go change a Europe that has tried to take away our freedom—to take it away, to rip it from our hands, in the name of finance, business, and bureaucracy.

I’m counting on you—long live the family! Long live the mothers, the fathers, and the children! And hands off the children! Thank you. Viva Verona! Good luck, and I wish you well. And thank you to the good Lord.