Salvini calls for early elections - English

Clay Curtis
August 13, 2019

Right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini's drive for early elections in Italy hit a road bump on Monday with parliamentary party leaders failing to decide when the Senate should debate his no-confidence motion in the government.

Salvini said in a statement on Thursday he had told Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who belongs to neither coalition party, that the alliance with 5-Star had collapsed and "we should quickly give the choice back to the voters".

Salvini's League is now in an uneasy coalition government with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, marred by infighting since it formed past year after no party came close to winning a parliamentary majority.

Italian Interior Minister and leader of the League party Matteo Salvini leaves at the end of a meeting with Lega Nord's deputies and senators, as Italian Senate is due to set a date to hold a no-confidence vote in the government in Rome, Italy, August 12, 2019. I don't believe we will go to elections but I am still terrified by what comes next'.

Italian parliament is now in summer recess but today Salvini urged lawmakers to come back to Rome to debate the motion: 'There's nothing to say that we can not make parliamentarians work in the middle of August.

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

The opposition has called on the government to resign, arguing it no longer has a workable majority in parliament after Di Maio voted against the Lyon-Turin rail project.

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.

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Former Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi, who still wields strong influence over his centre-left party, said on Sunday going back to the polls just when the government is due to start preparations for the 2020 budget would be "crazy".

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.

5-Star became the top party in the general election held in March previous year.

Italy continues to struggle with a budget deficit and huge national debt of more than €2.3 trillion ($2.6 trillion).

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.

Opinion polls suggest the League could win 38% of the vote in a fresh election, putting it within reach of controlling both houses of parliament without a coalition partner.

"This government's only option is to let Italians have their say" by calling elections, it added.

Although President Sergio Mattarella hasn't indicated if or when he will dissolve Parliament, a condition for early elections, a return to the ballot box could come as soon as late October, politicians and analysts calculated, after a mandatory campaign period.

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