Could Europe be witnessing a MIGA (Make Italy Great Again) moment under the nationalist policies of Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini? According to Fox News, the latest plunge in migration numbers seem to suggest that Italy may have its own Trump.
"Italy’s nationalist-populist government is hailing new numbers that show immigration into the country has plummeted dramatically within months of the government taking power, due to its refusal to accept NGO rescue boats of migrants coming from Africa," reports Fox News. "Official data show that in January 2018, 3,176 migrants landed on the Italian coast via boats. But in January 2019 that number was just 155."
The massive plunge in numbers stems from Salvini closing the ports to boats bringing migrants across the Mediterranean from Libya. "The data deny those who say that the Democratic Party had blocked the landings, we are doing more and better,” he told Il Giornale. "For the first time, returns are greater than arrivals."
Other European leaders have harshly criticized Italy's ascendant nationalist policies. Most recently, French President Emmanuel Macron demanded that Salvini open the country's ports, prompting the Italian leader to publicly distance himself from Macron.
"The migrant problem has many causes," Salvini said, according to Italian news agency ANSA. "In Africa, some take away wealth from the people and the Continent and France is among them."
Salvini accused France of having "no interest in stabilizing" the situation in places like Libya, adding that France "has little to get angry about because it has turned back thousands of migrants, including women and children, at the border."
"I don't take lessons on humanity and generosity from Macron," Salvini later added.
Despite the pressure, Salvini's government has continued its hardline stance on immigration. Just last week, an NGO migrant rescue boat carrying 47 people was rerouted off the coast of Italy over to France.
"After that, I invite it to point the bow towards Marseilles and land people on French soil instead of waiting unnecessarily in Italian waters for days," Salvini’s coalition counterpart Luigi Di Maio said via Facebook. "The Mediterranean is not only about Italy, Greece or Spain. But France too. And it has to do its part."
Italian news agency ANSA says an agreement was later reached for the 47 migrants to be distributed to Germany France, Portugal, Romania and Malta.
The migrant crisis in Italy has largely stemmed from the country's dwindling birthrate, which could result in a population crash by 2065.
According to the Italian Statistics Bureau (ISTAT), Italy's population will drop a total of 10% between 2017 and 2065 — 60.6 million to 54.1 million. "Taking into account the variability associated with demographic events, the population estimate by 2065 ranges from a minimum of 46.4 million to a maximum of 62," they report. "The chance of a population increase scenario by 2065 is 9%."
The news comes as Italy's birthrate continues to decline. In 2010, the birthrate stood at 1.46 children per woman; it now stands at just 1.34. Even if the birthrate were to increase in accordance with projections, it "will not be enough to offset projected deaths."