Salvini looks to bring down Italian coalition
Italy faces fresh political turmoil as Matteo Salvini, the far-right deputy prime minister, has called for an early general election after declaring that the coalition government is unworkable.
The coalition came to power in June 2018 between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the anti-migrant Lega party with numerous squabbles, plunging the eurozone’s third-largest economy into political instability.
The most recent crisis saw parliament rejecting a motion by M5S to block a costly Alpine high-speed rail link between Turin and Lyon in France, which is strongly supported by the Lega. The train link was approved by the Italian senate on Wednesday.
“Let’s quickly give the say back to the voters,” said the firebrand interior minister Salvini. He said the parliamentary vote on the train line showed that coalition did not have the majority it needed to pass legislation. Salvini’s call for an early election is an attempt to capitalise on his rising popularity, largely on the back of his populist, anti-migrant policies.
“We should immediately go to parliament to acknowledge that there is no longer a working majority as is shown by the vote on the TAV [a rail link to France] and the repeated insults to me and the Lega from our ‘allies’,” Salvini added.
The Lega currently tops opinion polls with 38 per cent although it only joined the government as the junior partner.
Conflicts between the coalition partners intensified since Salvini’s party won the most support at the European elections in May.
M5S has conversely seen its support drop and is currently polling third at 17 per cent, roughly half its popularity than during last year’s general election.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (pictured), a law professor who was appointed by the government coalition, said Salvini must justify to parliament why he was calling for a new election.
Conte said he would recall parliament from its summer recess for a vote of no confidence.
The prime minister, who is set to lose his surprise job, criticised Salvini’s decision. The compromise premier said: “He must . . . justify to the voters who believed in the promise of change, the reasons that have led him to interrupt early and abruptly the work of government,” Conte said after holding talks with President Sergio Mattarella and Salvini.
The two parties have disagreed over proposed tax cuts by the Lega and M5S backing of Ursula von der Leyen, the pro-EU ally of Angela Merkel, to become European Commission president.
Five Star separately said whoever started a crisis of government on August 8 “should assume the responsibility of bringing back a government of technocrats to Italy”.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Picture credit: Wikimedia