Matteo Salvini by Stephen K. Bannon

He came, he saw, he Facebooked—live. The most unconventional of politicians ran the most unconventional of campaigns, a whirlwind of rallies, speeches, energy, all captured live in the moment on social media, financed on a shoestring, with grit and determination and a message:

No longer would Brussels dictate immigration policy; no longer would the “party of Davos” dictate Italy’s sovereignty; no longer would the European elites silence the Italian citizens. Matteo Salvini resurrected Italy’s national pride.

The real vision was to form a government with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement—marking the first time a major industrial power combined the right and the left, the populist and the nationalist.

Actual governing has been difficult. As Interior Minister, Salvini closed the ports to illegal immigration, reduced human trafficking and stared down the E.U. On larger issues of the economy and the direction of the country, it has been far tougher.

From humble beginnings, Salvini is now the most talked-about politician in Europe—and by the end of May, after the European parliamentary elections, could well be the most powerful.

Bannon is a former White House chief strategist

READ MORE AT TIME.COM

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