Italy’s political crisis comes to a head as PM tipped to quit
Italy’s political crisis was set to come to a head on Tuesday with speculation Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will resign after far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini pulled the plug on the dysfunctional coalition government.
Conte is due to speak in the Senate at 3:00 pm (1300 GMT) following a week of fallout from Salvini’s dramatic decision to back out of the alliance on August 8, plunging the eurozone’s third-largest economy into political turmoil.
Salvini’s anti-immigrant League party has soared in opinion polls during months of squabbling over key policy decisions with its coalition partner the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).
Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister, hopes to trigger early elections, which polls suggest the League and its right-wing allies could win.
A small group of protesters heckled League senators as they arrived at the Senate.
“Get out, buffoons, get out mafia,” the protesters shouted, prompting a League senator to wave his middle finger at them.
Other protesters held banners reading “I’m with Salvini”.
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.
The likely end of the 14-month-old government would open the way for President Sergio Mattarella to begin consultations with political parties, with a range of options available.
A snap election, the forming of a new coalition without holding a new vote and, although unlikely, the continuation of the current government, would all be considered.
Ahead of the premier’s speech, protesters unfurled a banner near parliament that read: “Conte, Italy loves you”.
But Salvini told Radio 24 that the other parties feared new elections: “What is the point of a government with everyone ‘against Salvini’? A government must be strong to be able to act.” AFP