Tens of thousands of anti-populist Sardines fill Roman square

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Tens of thousands of members of the Italian anti-populist Sardines movement gathered in Rome on Saturday for their first national rally, as people said disillusionment with traditional politics drew them to the fast-growing new group.

The movement born last month with a spontaneous rally in Bologna focuses on “inclusive” social laws and pro-migration and pro-environment measures.

Its founders say they have no ambitions to become a political party, but the Sardines have become a strong adversary for Matteo Salvini, the right-wing leader of the League, Italy’s largest political party.

Italy Sardines Rome
People gather in St John at the Lateran Square for a demonstration (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

“We’ve filled the piazza. Mission accomplished,” one founder, Mattia Santori, told the crowd.

Protesters held sardine-shaped banners and chanted the traditional anti-fascist song Bella Ciao.

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“It’s a spontaneous demonstration that aims to change this society, with all the consequences that this brings,” said protester Daniela Mazzeo.

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