Italy Set for No-Confidence Vote of Conte Cabinet at Far-Leader Salvini’s Insistence
The realization of Salvini’s push for early election in October that could see him become the next Prime Minister of Italy remains far from certain.
Italy’s Senate is convening in the midst of its summer vacation on Tuesday in order to decide on a date for holding a no-confidence vote of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, at the insistence of far-right Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.
The Conte Cabinet has been in place for 14 months now, with Conte leading it as a non-partisan figure but real power residing with the heads of the two coalition partners: the left-wing populist Five Stars Movement (M5S) led by Luigi di Maio as the senior partner, and the far-right League party led by Matteo Salvini as the junior partner.
The balance of power in the governing coalition, however, has shifted in Salvini’s favor as a result of the 2019 EU elections – while the League won only 17% of the vote in the 2018 Italian elections, in May 2019, its result went up to 34%. The votes of M5S went from 33% in 2018 to 17% in the 2019 EU vote.
Salvini’s growing popularity is seen largely as a result of his hardline anti-immigrant stance.
Last week, Salvini called for holding quickly new general elections. He is said to be seeking to take advantage of his spike in popularity coupled with a drop in public support for the Five Stars Movement.
Salvini’s popularity seems to have been unscathed by “Russiagate”, a scandal in which leaked tapes implicate persons from the League party in an alleged secret discussion of a Russian funding mechanism involving potential oil sales.
The Italian Senate is now set to decide when exactly to initiate a no-confidence vote against the Conte Cabinet, AP and France24 reported.
At the same time, though, the center-left Democratic Party, the largest opposition force in Italy at the moment, is divided on the question of holding an early election.
Party secretary Nicola Zingaretti has been trying to project unity, declaring that the Democrats were not scared of competing in a new vote, and declaring that the decision of calling an early election is for President Sergio Mattarella to make.
At the same time, however, former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who is still a rather influential figure in the Democratic Party, on Sunday urged the formation to ally itself with the Five Stars Movement in order to stop Salvini’s push for holding an early election in October that could end up making him the next Prime Minister of Italy.
Against the backdrop of the developing government crisis, Italy needs to draft its new budget law by the end of October.
One of the hottest issues in it would be how to avoid a planned sales tax hike worth EUR 23 billion as the measure is highly unpopular with the voters.
As the budget is supposed to be approved by the Italian legislature by the end of 2019, depending on the results from the no-confidence vote, President Mattarella could try to form a transition government before scheduling elections as last as next year.
(Banner image: Video grab from France24)