Salvini's Lega presents Italian PM Conte no-confidence motion

Cheryl Sanders
August 12, 2019

According to ANSA, the League, one of two parties in Italy's coalition government, tabled a no-confidence vote against the current Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, on Friday, with its leader, Matteo Salvini, having called for early elections.

"Therefore, Italy should go to elections", the League Party said, referring to its coalition partner 5-Star Movement (M5S).

"I reiterated today to Premier Conte that we should go to parliament immediately to acknowledge that the ruling majority no longer exists, as shown by the TAV vote", Salvini, who is also interior minister, said in a statement after a meeting with the premier. He said it was not up to the interior minister to convene parliament and said Salvini relied on "slogans" to gain support.

A snap election would be only be called if it proves impossible to form a new government without it.

He made his appeal to M5S, Silvio Berlusconi's conservative Forza Italia party, the radical left, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and others as parliamentary groups prepare to decide when a motion to censure the government could be voted.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday to discuss the political situation as rumours swirled of an imminent government collapse, while investors sold off Italian government bonds.

Backing for Mr Salvini's League has soured over the past year, with recent polls putting it at 36 percent of the vote, with support for M5S dwindling to just 15 percent.

The prime minister added that he had assured Salvini that he would ensure the transparency of the ongoing crisis.

The timing of any election is critical, as Italy must submit a budget in the fall - and needs a working majority to work out terms. "There's nothing to say that we can not make parliamentarians work in the middle of August".

The eurozone's third-largest economy is suffering from huge political uncertainty, with the shock announcement fuelling even more feuding between the right-win League and the coalition party, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

The disagreements escalated on Wednesday when parliament rejected a motion by M5S to block a high-speed rail project linking Italy and France. Pushing the nation back into election mode in August is unusual and could be unpopular and risky.

Mattarella may be unwilling to dissolve parliament ahead of preparatory work in September for the 2020 budget, which must then be presented to parliament the following month.

"Let's get rid of 345 of the seats in parliament (out of 950) and their salaries", he said on Facebook, adding that the money saved could be better spent.

He told supporters during a rally in Pescara on Thursday night: "Give us the strength to take this country in hand and save it".

Italy has already infuriated the European Union by utilising an expansionary 2019 budget, and the fact that Salvini wants major tax cuts next year will result in even more conflicts in the future.

Shrugging off frowns from high-brow commentators and opponents, Salvini has made the beaches his political stage, a ideal venue for his down-market, "man-of-the-people" persona - and the more crowded and less exclusive they are the better.

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