Sunday, 15 December, 2019

League ally: Crisis is chance to move Italy farther to right

Matteo Salvini has more than doubled support for the League since last year's general election banning migrant rescue vessels from docking in Italian ports League ally: Crisis is chance to move Italy farther to right
Deanna Wagner | 13 August, 2019, 15:41

Italy is facing a government crisis with Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League party calling for a new election and urging Italy's president to verify in parliament that the governing majority has collapsed.

Salvini, whose hard-right League party is doing well in the polls, has clashed with his fellow Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio of the Five Star Movement (M5S) over a range of issues, and made increasing demands that coalition partners agree to League policies.

While the populist leader, who has dominated the media landscape over his successes on curbing immigration, praised the achievements of the government so far he said it was not capable of more while the constituent parties squabbled and the best thing for Italy now is an election as soon as possible.

League senators sought a confidence vote in Parliament on Conte's government that the premier appeared destined to lose, without Salvini's support. Italy has not held an election in the autumn in all the post-war period. I don't believe we will go to elections but I am still terrified by what comes next'.

The Italian parliament is now on its summer recess but the no-confidence motion means it could reconvene next week.

The disagreements escalated on Wednesday when parliament rejected a motion by M5S to block a high-speed rail project linking Italy and France.

"This would be a grave danger for the country", Letta said, while also suggesting that a second government under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte might be formed, an idea that Renzi backed as well.

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Salvini's anti-migrant, anti-NGO stance is credited with the League's surge in popularity.

Salvini regularly rails against European Union budget rigor, insisting that more state spending on infrastructure will get Italy's long-stagnant economy growing again. "With Salvini, an Italian "Brexit" is not impossible", said Letta, who was Italy's premier between April 2013 and February 2014.

Italian Treasury officials are drafting a plan to protect the economy from political paralysis, concerned that the collapse of the ruling coalition could lead to a default hike in sales tax next year, a government source told Reuters.

In the event of a vote of no-confidence, it would be up to Italy's president to call a new election if he found no way of salvaging the government.

Support for the Five-Star Movement has halved since it emerged as the biggest party in the last election in March 2018.

Lawmakers "should move their rear ends and come to Parliament, if need be, even next week, because millions of Italians are also working the next week, and the week after", Salvini told a sea of cheering supporters Thursday night in Pescara, a small city on the Adriatic.

With parliament closed for the summer holidays, Salvini has been waging an unofficial election campaign on Italian beaches, a ideal venue for his down-market, "man-of-the-people" persona. "This government has always worked a lot and talked little", he added.