Italy's former deputy prime minster called for an alliance of the centre-right and the far-right to defeat the government in Rome
salvini rally rome
Italy's far-right figurehead Matteo Salvini addressed a crowd of some 100,000 people Rome as he called on the country's political right to rally around him.

Comment: There's nothing 'far-right' about this guy. In an interview with French magazine Le Point about yesterday's enormous rally (which was on a scale every other party in Italy can only dream of), Salvini said:

"Fascism, like communism, is a dead idea. These are phenomena to be studied, but neither of them will return. I believe that the left, right, fascist, and communist labels are outdated. I call myself Italian, neither right nor left. For me, 'populist' is a compliment, it means being close to the people."

Mr Salvini, who pressed the self-destruct button on the country's previous populist government in August, appeared on stage at the so-called Italian pride rally with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and far-right leader Giorgia Meloni and called for public support to defeat Italy's sitting centre-left government.

"We're here in this piazza because we have a big responsibility, to answer our people's call for unity," Mr Berlusconi said, attacking the current government as "the most left-wing" of the last 70 years.

"I would like that, since the team always wins and never alone, the embrace of this square should also go to Giorgia Meloni and Silvio Berlusconi, because together we win," Mr Salvini added, saying the crowd in the square represented the "true Italy".

The size of the crowd - organisers claimed as many as 200,000 had attended the demonstration - is illustrative of Mr Salvini's growing popularity. Supporters had travelled to the Italian capital on eight trains and 400 coaches organised to come from across the country.

The demonstrators posed for selfies and carried the Italian tricolore and Lega flags during the rally. Some carried devotional Christian pictures as Mr Salvini addressed them in the square.

The anti-immigrant leader has seen his popularity quickly rebound following setbacks over the summer. As deputy prime minister and interior minister Mr Salvini, though the junior partner in the previous government, overshadowed his allies the Five Star Movement (M5S).

In August, in hopes of ushering in a snap election and capitalising on a strong lead in the opinion polls, Mr Salvini ended the coalition with the anti-establishment, populist M5S.

Comment: But only after M5S became increasingly truculent. It's likely they pushed Salvini into collapsing the coalition because they had already lined up a treacherous post-collapse deal with the establishment parties.

In government, as interior minister, Mr Salvini used his position create a standoff between the Italian government and the international charities operating rescue ships in the Mediterranean.

Under security legislation he introduced the international organisations faced massive fines for letting their vessels enter Italian ports with custodial sentences handed down to the ships' captains.

Comment: Thus reducing illegal migration to nil. Which reverted to the crazy status quo after Salvini was booted.

However, Mr Salvini's hopes at for a swift election were thwarted when the M5S struck a coalition deal with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD). His exile to the political wilderness did deliver a brief slump in popularity for Mr Salvini's Lega Party. It is clear, however, that in opposition, Mr Salvini has electrified his base.

Comment: It is clear that a majority of Italians have been 'electrified' with him for at least 18 months now. But the establishment won't allow fresh elections to prove that.

In Rome he continued to exploit Italy's migration woes, explaining how in government he had seen first-hand how authorities were unwilling to deal with refugees and asylum seekers arriving to the country.

Recent polls have shown his message continues to resonate. Lega currently stands at between 30 to 33 per cent of voter intentions, M5S and the PD, on the other hand have dropped slightly to between 18 and 20 per cent each.

Comment: And that's official polls showing him with a clear lead!

Before he was frozen out of government over the summer, Mr Salvini had indicated he was unwilling to work with Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia and Ms Meloni's Italian Brothers. His most recent rally may show he plans to be more pragmatic and form alliance before any upcoming election. While Italy's next general election is not due to be held until 2023 the current coalition is explosive and could fall apart before then.

Comment: Let M5S keep their rotten coalition. They'll be history in 2023.

During her own speech, Ms Meloni, whose party has regularly praised Italy's wartime fascist leader Benito Mussolini, vowed to fight against what she referred to as "the Islamisation of Europe".

"Let's fight this battle together beyond the confines of individual parties, without selfishness and we will be unstoppable," Meloni told the crowd.