Luigi Di Maio

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Luigi Di Maio
Luigi Di Maio May 2018.jpg
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
5 September 2019
Prime MinisterGiuseppe Conte
Preceded byEnzo Moavero Milanesi
Deputy Prime Minister of Italy
In office
1 June 2018 – 5 September 2019
Serving with Matteo Salvini
Prime MinisterGiuseppe Conte
Preceded byAngelino Alfano (2014)
Succeeded byVacant
Minister of Economic Development
In office
1 June 2018 – 5 September 2019
Prime MinisterGiuseppe Conte
Preceded byCarlo Calenda
Succeeded byStefano Patuanelli
Minister of Labour and Social Policies
In office
1 June 2018 – 5 September 2019
Prime MinisterGiuseppe Conte
Preceded byGiuliano Poletti
Succeeded byNunzia Catalfo
Leader of the Five Star Movement
In office
23 September 2017 – 22 January 2020
Preceded byBeppe Grillo
Succeeded byVito Crimi
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
Assumed office
15 March 2013
ConstituencyCampania 1 (2013–2018)
NaplesAcerra (2018–present)
Personal details
Born (1986-07-06) 6 July 1986 (age 34)
Avellino, Italy
Political partyFive Star Movement
Domestic partnerVirginia Saba[1]
Signature

Luigi Di Maio (Italian pronunciation: [luˈiːdʒi di ˈmaːjo]; born 6 July 1986) is an Italian politician serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs since 5 September 2019. He previously served as Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of Economic Development, Labour and Social Policies from 2018 to 2019, and as Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies in the XVII Italian legislature. From 2017 to January 2020, he was the leader of the Five Star Movement, an anti-establishment party founded by Beppe Grillo.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Luigi Di Maio was born in Avellino, in 1986; he was the eldest of three brothers. His father Antonio was a small real estate entrepreneur and local councilor for the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI), while his mother was a teacher of Italian and Latin.[4][5]

Di Maio attended the Liceo classico and then he enrolled at the University of Naples Federico II to study engineering, but subsequently changed to jurisprudence. He was among the founders of student societies at both faculties.[citation needed] Di Maio never graduated from university.[6][7]

In 2007, he was registered as an apprentice journalist, later briefly working as a webmaster and as a drinks seller (despite his claims of having been a steward) at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples.[8][9][10][11]

Political career[edit]

In 2007, Di Maio was among the founders of the political group "Friends of Beppe Grillo", the predecessors of the Five Star Movement (M5S), founded by the popular comedian in October 2009.[12]

In the 2013 election, he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament. On 21 March 2013, he became the youngest Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies.[13][14]

On 12 July 2017, Di Maio was formally investigated for defamation following a complaint filed by Marika Cassimatis, former M5S mayoral candidate in Genoa,[15] while, on 28 July 2017, the journalist Elena Polidori filed a complaint against him also for defamation. Di Maio invoked his parliamentary immunity; he had previously criticized that privilege and pledged never to avail himself of it.[16]

In 2017, Beppe Grillo announced that he would campaign in the 2018 election, but he would not be the candidate for the position of Prime Minister. Di Maio was considered as the front runner and the most likely candidate for the premiership of Italy.[17]

Di Maio had been often labeled as the most pragmatic and "institutional", but also the least populist Five Star politician; he is considered the leader of the moderate and "governmental" faction of the movement.[18][19] No other leading members of the M5S, such as Alessandro Di Battista, a politician and personal friend of Di Maio, or Roberto Fico, leader of the M5S left-wing faction and rival of Di Maio and Di Battista, would run for the office.[20]

Di Maio's opponents were the Senator Elena Fattori (Vice President of the 9th Permanent Senate Committee) and six other city councilors.[21] Many of them were almost unknown and this led to a lot of criticism from the Democratic Party, Lega Nord and Forza Italia,[22] which considered this ballot a false primary election, with the only aim of appointing Di Maio as M5S candidate without any real challenger.[23]

2018 general election[edit]

In September 2017 Di Maio was elected Prime Ministerial candidate and Political Head of the M5S, with more than 82% of the vote.[24]

In the 2018 general election, the M5S became the party with the largest number of votes and of parliamentary seats, while the centre-right alliance, in which Matteo Salvini's League emerged as the main political force, won a plurality of seats in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate and the centre-left coalition, led by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, came third.[25] However, no political group or party won an outright majority, resulting in a hung parliament.[26]

On 7 April, Di Maio made an appeal to the PD to "bury the hatchet" and consider a governing coalition with his party. [27]

On 7 May, President Mattarella held a third round of government formation talks, after which he formally confirmed the lack of any possible majority (M5S rejecting an alliance with the whole centre-right coalition, PD rejecting an alliance with both M5S and the centre-right coalition, and the League's Matteo Salvini refusing to start a government with M5S but without Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, whose presence in the government was explicitly vetoed by M5S's leader Luigi Di Maio); on the same circumstance, he announced his intention to soon appoint a "neutral government" (irrespective of M5S and League's refusal to support such an option) to take over from the Gentiloni Cabinet which was considered unable to lead Italy into a second consecutive election as it was representing a majority from a past legislature, and offering an early election in July (on what it would be the very first time for a summer general election in Italy) as a realistic option to take into consideration due to the deadlock situation.[28] The Lega and M5S agreed to hold new elections on 8 July, an option that was however rejected by all other parties.[29][30][31]

On 9 May, after a day of rumours surfaced, both Di Maio and Salvini officially requested President Mattarella to give them 24 more hours to strike a government agreement between the two parties.[32] Later the same day, in the evening, Silvio Berlusconi publicly announced Forza Italia would not support a M5S-League government on a vote of confidence, but he would still maintain the centre-right alliance nonetheless, thus opening the doors to a possible majority government between the two parties.[33]

On 13 May, 5 Star Movement and League reached an agreement in principle on a government program, likely clearing the way for the formation of a governing coalition between the two parties, but could not find an agreement regarding the members of a government cabinet, most importantly the prime minister. M5S and League leaders met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella on 14 May to guide the formation of a new government.[34] On their meeting with President Mattarella, both parties asked for an additional week of negotiations to agree on a detailed government program and a prime minister to lead the joint government. Both M5S and the League announced their intention to ask their respective members to vote on the government agreement by the weekend.

Di Maio at the Quirinal Palace in April 2018.

On 21 May 2018, Di Maio and Salvini proposed the private law professor Giuseppe Conte, for the role of Prime Minister in the 2018 Italian government,[35][36][37] despite reports in the Italian press suggesting that President Mattarella still had significant reservations about the direction of the new government.[38] On 23 May 2018, Conte was invited to the Quirinal Palace to receive the presidential mandate to form a new cabinet.[39][40] In the traditional statement after the appointment, Conte said that he would be the “defense lawyer of Italian people”.[41]

However, Conte renounced to his office on 27 May due to contrasts between Salvini and President Mattarella. In fact, Salvini proposed the university professor Paolo Savona as Minister of Economy and Finances, but Mattarella strongly opposed him, considering Savona too Eurosceptic and anti-German.[42] In his speech after Conte's resignation, Mattarella declared that the two parties wanted to bring Italy out of the Eurozone, and as the guarantor of Italian Constitution and country's interest and stability he could not allow this.[43][44]

On the following day, Mattarella gave Carlo Cottarelli, a former director of the International Monetary Fund, the task of forming a new government.[45] On 28 May 2018, the Democratic Party (PD) announced that it would abstain from voting the confidence to Cottarelli, while the Five Star Movement and the center-right parties Forza Italia (FI), Brothers of Italy (FdI) and the League announced their vote against.[46][47]

Cottarelli was expected to submit his list of ministers for approval to President Mattarella on 29 May. However, on 29 May and 30 May he held only informal consultations with the President, waiting for the formation of a “political government”.[48][49] Meanwhile, Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio announced their willingness to restart the negotiations to form a political government, Giorgia Meloni, leader of FdI, gave her support to the initiative.[48][49][50] On 31 May, M5S and the League reached an agreement to form a new government, without Paolo Savona as finance minister (he became minister of European affairs instead), and with Conte at its head.[51][52]

Deputy Prime Minister[edit]

Di Maio meets the U.S. National Security Advisor, John Bolton, in Washington D.C.

Di Maio was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development, Labour and Social Policies in the first Conte government on 1 June 2018.[53]

As minister, he implemented the so-called "citizens' income" (Italian: reddito di cittadinanza), a system of social welfare provision that provides a basic income and assistance in finding a job to poor people and families,[54] which was one of the main proposal of the M5S 2018 campaign.[55] The income was set to a maximum of €780 per month, and in its first year the program had almost 2.7 million applications.[56][57]

In August 2019, Di Maio's co-serving Deputy Prime Minister, Salvini, announced a motion of no confidence against Conte, after growing tensions within the majority.[58] Salvini's move came right after a vote in the Senate regarding the progress of the Turin–Lyon high-speed railway, in which the Lega voted against an attempt of the M5S to block the construction works.[59] Many political analysts believe the no confidence motion was an attempt to force early elections to improve Lega's standing in Parliament, ensuring Salvini could become the next Prime Minister.[60][61][62] On 20 August, following the parliamentary debate in which Conte harshly accused Salvini of being a political opportunist who "had triggered the political crisis only to serve his personal interest",[63] the Prime Minister resigned his post to President Sergio Mattarella.[64]

Minister of Foreign Affairs[edit]

Di Maio with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in October 2019

After Conte's resignation, the national board of the PD officially opened to the possibility of forming a new cabinet in a coalition with the M5S,[65] based on pro-Europeanism, green economy, sustainable development, fight against economic inequality and a new immigration policy.[66] Di Maio was initially contrary and rumors grew about the possibility of forming a second cabinet between M5S and Lega, with Di Maio himself as PM.[67] However, the PD later accepted the M5S offer to keep Conte as head of the new government,[68] and on 29 August President Mattarella formally invested Conte to do so.[69]

On 1 September, Five Star's founder Beppe Grillo strongly endorsed an alliance with the PD, describing it as a "unique occasion" to reform the country.[70] After two days, on 3 September, the members of the Five Star Movement voted in favor of an agreement with the Democrats, under the premiership of Giuseppe Conte, with more than 79% of favorable votes out of nearly 80,000 voters.[71] On 5 September, Di Maio was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the new government.[72]

On 22 January 2020, Di Maio resigned as leader of the M5S, due to the incumbent role as Foreign Affairs Minister.[73]

In early 2020, Di Maio supported the government-imposed nationwide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[74]

In November 2018, Silvia Romano, a 23-year-old Italian aid worker, was kidnapped in Kenya by a group of terrorists linked to Al-Shabaab.[75] On 9 May 2020, Conte announced her liberation in a tweet.[76] Immediately after the announcement, speculations rose about the ransom paid to the kidnappers, which according to some sources stood at around €4 million.[77] Moreover, Romano became the target of a hate campaign by the right-wing opposition due to her conversion to Islam, occurred during the captivity.[78] During a discussion in the Chamber of Deputies, Alessandro Pagano, a member of the League, called her a "neo-terrorist".[79]

On 1 September 2020, two Italian fishing boats were detained by the Libyan Coast Guard, along with their crews of eighteen members total, while allegedly fishing in Lybia's territorial waters in the Southern Mediterranean.[80] Prime Minister Conte and Minister Di Maio asked for the immediately release, but the Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar denied it, demanding a prisoner exchange.[81] On 17 December 2020, Conte announced that the eighteen fishermen were freed.[82]

In December 2020, Di Maio played a key role in the transfer to Italy of Enrico "Chico" Forti,[83] an Italian citizen who was controversially sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of an American citizen twenty years before.[84][85] On 23 December, Di Maio stated: "This is an extremely important result, which rewards a long and patient political and diplomatic work. We have never forgotten Chico Forti, who will finally be able to return to his home country, close to his loved ones."[86]

Electoral history[edit]

Election House Constituency Party Votes Result
2013 Chamber of Deputies Campania 1 M5S [a] checkY Elected
2018 Chamber of Deputies Campania 1Acerra M5S 95,219 checkY Elected
  1. ^ Elected in a closed list proportional representation system.

First-past-the-post elections[edit]

2018 general election (C): Acerra
Candidate Party Votes %
Luigi Di Maio Five Star Movement 95,219 63.4
Vittorio Sgarbi Centre-right coalition 30,596 20.4
Antonio Falcone Centre-left coalition 18,018 12.0
Others 6,315 4.1
Total 150,148 100.0

References[edit]

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  86. ^ "Chico Forti tornerà in Italia", annuncio di Di Maio, Adnkronos

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Beppe Grillo
Leader of the Five Star Movement
2017–2020
Succeeded by
Vito Crimi
Political offices
Preceded by
Angelino Alfano
Deputy Prime Minister of Italy
2018–2019
Served alongside: Matteo Salvini
Vacant
Preceded by
Carlo Calenda
Minister of Economic Development
2018–2019
Succeeded by
Stefano Patuanelli
Preceded by
Giuliano Poletti
Minister of Labour and Social Policies
2018–2019
Succeeded by
Nunzia Catalfo
Preceded by
Enzo Moavero Milanesi
Minister of Foreign Affairs
2019–present
Incumbent