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Italy to decide on Salvini's vote of no-confidence

Italian Interior Minister and leader of the League party Matteo Salvini poses for a selfie as he meets supporters at the Caparena beach in the Sicilian seaside town of Taormina on August 11, 2019.
Italian Interior Minister and leader of the League party Matteo Salvini poses for a selfie as he meets supporters at the Caparena beach in the Sicilian seaside town of Taormina on August 11, 2019. (REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello)

Italy’s heads of political groups in the Senate will decide today on a timetable for a vote of no-confidence motion against the government headed by Prime minister Guiseppe Conte. Interior minister Matteo Salvini is hoping for snap elections as early as October.


Italy’s Interior minister, and head of the far-right League party, summoned all League members of Parliament, despite the summer recess, to Rome today. He is pushing for a vote of no-confidence, filed on 9 August, which he hopes might take place this week.

Matteo Salvini announced, last Thursday 8 August, that that he was pulling his League party out of a 14-month-old ruling coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S). He said that had had enough of working with the M5S led by Luigi di Maio.

The League and M5S have differed on several major policy issues such as the political crisis in Venezuela, taxation, immigration and a planned high-speed rail link between Turin and the French city of Lyon. Di Maio backed German politician Ursula von der Leyen as president of the EU Commission, while Salvini called for his party to reject her candidacy.

Di Maio said that triggering a government crisis now was “foolish and dangerous.”

Fomer Prime minister and head of the centre-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, said that Salvini could eventually take Italy out of the European Union.

"Italians first!"

Salvini advocates a hard-line anti-immigration and anti-EU stance, with a rallying cry of "Italians first".

In comments published on Friday, Pope Francis, warned against the type of European nationalism espoused by Salvini, even evoking German dictator Adolf Hitler's rise to power on the back of a similar ideology.

"I am concerned because we hear speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934. 'Us first, We ... We...' These are frightening thoughts," the pope was quoted as saying.

Under Salvini's hardline stance as interior minister, the populist government clashed with most of its EU partners when it closed Italian ports to refugees. Rome has also sparred with Brussels over budget numbers and targets.

But on Saturday, Salvini said that pulling the country out of either the euro or the European Union "has never been in the works."

The League reached 39 per cent in opinion polls and Salvini embarked on what the media refers to as as “beach tour” or “Italian Summer” tour with two dozen seaside stops up and down Italy’s more than 7,000 kilometers of coastline.

Salvini, nicknamed Il Capitano (The Captain) by his supporters, said that the “tour” is a series of public meetings that the citizens of the territories have asked for.

Salvini's ambitions

“I wasn’t born to warm a minister’s chair,” added Salvini, who also serves as deputy prime minister, at a campaign stop in the seaside town of Pescara this week. “I’m asking Italians if they want to give me full powers to do what we have promised to do, to the end, without delays.”

Former Democratic Party leader, Matteo Renzi, said that going back to the polls just when the government is due to start preparations for the 2020 budget would be "crazy".

Renzi instead called for a caretaker government to be installed with various parties representing the political landscape.

Only President Sergio Mattarella has the power to dissolve parliament and he may be unwilling to do so ahead of preparatory work in September for the 2020 budget, which must be presented to parliament and the European Commission the following month.

Under pressure from Brussels, the Italian government is struggling to rein in its budget deficit and manage a massive debt mountain of more than 2.3 trillion euros.

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