Italy in crisis? Matteo Salvini's push for power runs into trouble
20 August, 2019, 17:36
If a new coalition government is not agreed, it could force fresh elections.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has told senators he is handing in his resignation because his right-wing coalition partner, the League party led by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, has chose to yank its support for the populist government.
On the other side of Conte sat Luigi Di Maio, head of the League's now-estranged coalition partner, the 5-Star Movement, which was branded as obstructionist by Salvini over the past 12 days, since he pulled the plug on their alliance.
Conte is expected to make a speech, widely touted to be scathing of Salvini's behaviour, but it is not yet clear whether he will then immediately resign or wait for the outcome of a no confidence vote.
Mr Salvini's push to take office also faces stiff opposition from a centre-left alliance, who have formed in the hope of stopping the firebrand poltician's rise. A government needs to be strong in order to get things done.
The political crisis has raised concerns about the Italian economy, whose debt ratio at 132 percent of gross domestic product is the second-biggest in the eurozone after Greece.
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A wide range of options is still available, including the continuation of the current government, forming a new coalition without holding new elections or the organisation of a snap general election. Nonetheless, daily Corriere della Sera reports that Five Star top brass could consider the resurrection of the tie-up with Lega, asking for Salvini's ousting of power.
Tensions within the ruling coalition surged after the European elections, when the balance of power between Italy's two ruling parties turned in Lega's favour.
The most likely scenario, in the event that no elections are held, is an agreement between the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment M5S to form a new government. After a year of highly critical anti-EU rhetoric from Salvini, Prodi said the new coalition would allow a "reintegration of Italy as an active member of the European Union". "Who would an M5S-PD executive represent?"
Salvini has also softened his tone regarding the premier, saying: "Conte remains my prime minister and my phone is always on".
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