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That Night Matteo Salvini Nearly Forced An Election Over Stuffed Pasta Dinner

Italy’s most powerful political force decided to hold off abandoning the government, for now.

Matteo Salvini eats a piece of cheese at an event in Rome on Oct. 5, 2018.

Matteo Salvini eats a piece of cheese at an event in Rome on Oct. 5, 2018.

Photographer: Ettore Ferrari/ANSA via AP Photo

On the night Matteo Salvini edged closest to forcing the collapse of Italy’s ruling coalition, the deputy premier joined his League Party lieutenants for dinner in the small town of Barzago in his northern stronghold.

Over stuffed Casoncelli pasta and Bresaola salted beef, a tense-looking Salvini mulled the pros and cons of pulling out of the government. League ministers were doing a good job, but if he couldn’t push his key policies through there was no point pressing on, Salvini told them at the July 18 gathering. One adviser asked if he was due to meet President Sergio Mattarella in Rome, which would signal he was ready to quit. I’m here, Salvini replied tersely.