It’s possible that in the next few days, Matteo Salvini—Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior—will land in the United States to achieve Donald Trump’s favor. For his election campaign, the leader of the Italian League was inspired by the American president motto “America First”, replacing it with “Italy First.” But who is Matteo Salvini?

Currently, the League is the oldest political party in Italy, as the others have disappeared or changed their identities. In the 1980s, the historical leader Umberto Bossi represented the northern Italian people, also known as Padania—a sort of Tolkienian Middle Earth that existed only in the minds of a few Italians. The party manifesto of this small separatist movement was the hatred of the capital Rome (the city where the main scams took place) and the south, responsible for dangerous exsanguination of state resources.

In the League’s opinion the “terroni” – as the Italians Yankees called southern peoples – they were individuals who didn’t want to work, parasites who lived off the Po Valley workers. In the 1994 elections the League Party – thanks to Silvio Berlusconi’s alliance – went to the Italian Parliament. The Umberto Bossi arrival in Rome was supposed to represent the climax of the secession struggle, yet something began to change.

The “Game of Thrones” played in Palazzo Chigi also began to involve Northern representatives: power, money and expedience altered the League thinking and purity, but not that of its people. Every year in Pontida, a beautiful mountain village in Lombardy, the Padania supporters gather to collect the waters of the Po river, the North sanctified watercourse. A grotesque ritual that imitates the Celtic druid ceremonies. The Leaguists collect water in ampoules and consider it a symbol of the water that originated the Po Valley. At some point, the Leaguists also thought of changing the Italian’s national anthem by proposing the Giuseppe Verdi’s “Va pensiero,” or “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves.”

Although the politics were different, the League catchwords didn’t change. During the party rallies, Bossi and his fellows violently criticized the Italian Republic President and Parliament institutions, also dishonoring the Italian flag: this was the real League strength. A party that has always been present on the territory, speaking to the people actively and directly, even vulgar, but making himself understood by all.

Salvini took his first career steps in this environment. He was, in fact, one of the most active members of the Movimento dei Giovani Padani (Young Padanian Movement), a journalist of the daily newspaper La Padania and the radio station Radio Padania Libera. After an excellent experience as Milan Party Provincial Secretary, Salvini’s ascent to power was unstoppable.

Finally, in 2013, he was appointed Northern League Federal Secretary. Salvini never conceals his sympathy for extreme right-wing organizations, such as Forza Nuova or Casa Pound, although they were far from the League’s thinking. The Northern Party’s original spirit was now a memory: all first-generation Leaguists had disappeared.

The Italian Left disastrous European strategy and the immigration policy failures gave Salvini’s League a reason for a new and more passionate battle. The late League nationalist and xenophobic spirit took the place of the more “free-range” guardians of Padania local traditions.