Italy’s government has collapsed as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned after Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini tabled a no-confidence vote.

Conte unloaded on Salvini in a speech to the Senate, accusing him of putting his individual wants ahead of the country. Salvini has demanded snap elections since opinion polls have shown that his Northern League as the most popular party in Italy.

From the BBC:

Mr Conte said Mr Salvini had been “irresponsible” in creating a new political crisis for Italy for “personal and party interests”.

Mr Salvini, the leader of the nationalist League party, had tabled a no-confidence motion against Mr Conte.

He also said he could no longer work with his coalition partners Five Star.

The League and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement formed a coalition to govern just 14 months ago with Mr Conte as an independent as prime minister.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella accepted the resignation of Mr Conte and is due to begin consulting party leaders on Wednesday.

Mr Mattarella has asked Mr Conte to remain in office while the discussions continue.

If there is not the the political will to form a new government, the president will dissolve parliament and call early elections.

Salvini immediately fired back at Conte. From CNN:

Salvini took the microphone immediately after Conte finished his speech in the Senate, saying that he would “do what I did all over again,” adding: “I am a free man. I am not afraid of the judgment of Italians.”

He then said he wanted to offer Italians a “future of growth and prosperity.”

Salvini also defended his policies on Europe and immigration, which caused the coalition to fall apart. He said: “are we or are we not a sovereign country, free to protect its borders, its beaches!”

Salvini’s moves has also isolated the 5 Star Movement. The leaders of that group have started exploring ways to win the snap elections, which includes “a new coalition government with their longstanding foes, the mainstream center-left Democratic Party.”

Salvini could become the first leader of a populist party in a European Union country if the snap elections happen. A victory for him could push more thorns into the sides of the elite within the EU. From The Wall Street Journal:

Opinion polls suggest the League could currently win an outright majority in Parliament together with two smaller allies: the far-right Brothers of Italy and the conservative Forza Italia of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Mr. Salvini’s push to bring down the government and trigger snap elections has caused some disquiet in the League, where some other senior officials have privately criticized their leader’s timing.

Salvini experienced some pushback from those within his own party. The chaos that happened today just adds more to an already messy political situation in Italy.

The Italian government has to finish a budget by October 15 and pass a budget law by the end of the year. However, that law must live up to “EU rules by reducing Italy’s deficit and its high national debt.”

Conte, an independent and lawyer who never held political office, became prime minister in June 18. After Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio selected him in February 2018. The general election ended in a hung parliament. After months of negotiations and fighting, the Five Star Movement party and Northern League agreed on a coalition.

President Sergio Mattarella did not like the direction the government was going, which led to Di Maio and Salvini choosing neutral Conte.

The partnership fell apart this month over a migrant ship stranded off the coast. A court ruled that the boat could dock in Italy, but Salvini said no. Conte pushed Salvini to take in the minors. Salvini relented and “allowed 27 unaccompanied minors to disembark the ship.” However, Salvini made it known this was all Conte’s doing.

 
 
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