Italy's Lega party leader Matteo Salvini speraks to media during his visit to the so-called migrant "Hotspot" operational processing facility on the southern Italian Pelagie Island of Lampedusa on August 4, 2022. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

The Italian right-wing politician Matteo Salvini sees himself prepared for the post of head of government in the event of a surprising election victory for his party Lega. He said that on Thursday during a visit to the migrant and refugee camp on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. “I’m absolutely ready.”

The centre-right alliance of Lega, Forza Italia (FI) and Fratelli d’Italia (FdI) leads the polls for the September 25 election. However, FdI is in front among the parties. Their party leader Giorgia Meloni has a good chance of becoming prime minister.

During his brief visit to Lampedusa, Salvini announced that if the centre-right took office, he would “secure the borders” and stop the flow of migrants. “Italy must not open its gates to illegal immigrants who are not fleeing any war,” he told journalists.

Even when he was Minister of the Interior from 2018 to 2019, Salvini took tough action against boat people and sea rescuers. Because of some incidents, he now has to answer to Italian courts. Now he recalls that at that time significantly fewer people came to Italy from Africa via the Mediterranean.

The Ministry of the Interior, whose boss Luciana Lamorgese is regularly criticized by Salvini and Fratelli boss Meloni, counted 42,465 people as of Thursday who arrived by boat at the coasts and ports of Italy this year. That is already significantly more than in the whole of 2021 (30,315).