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Italy - 2019 General Election

Over the year 2019 Italy's government had been marked by constantly flaring tensions between the two parties, which disagree radically on a number of issues. The government had repeatedly been on the brink of collapse since it was formed just over 14 months ago. The two parties have clashed on a number of issues, from basic income to more autonomy for states.

The latest skirmish took place 07 August 2019 over a high-speed train project through the Alps, which the Five-Star Movement oppose and the League supported. The League ended up convincing lawmakers to continue with the project. The League issued a statement complaining about the issues with its governing partner, saying that "it is useless to go on." The statement added that "the only alternative to this government is to give the word back to Italians with new elections."

That reflects the inversion in the popularity of the coalition partners, which came to power in June 2018 after an election that saw M5S take 32 percent of the vote, while the League scored 17 percent. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who led the far-right, anti-immigrant League party, had almost doubled his support to around 30 percent since June 2018, when he formed a coalition government with the populist Five-Star Movement, which had since halved its support to around 17 percent.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said 08 August 2019 that he will ask parliament for a vote of confidence after Salvini called for snap elections, bringing Italy one step closer to a government crisis. "Salvini came to tell me that the League intends to interrupt this experience in government and to call for a vote in order to capitalize on the consensus his party currently enjoys," Conte told reporters at a nationally televised press conference. "It will be up to him to explain to the country and to justify to the voters...the reasons that led him to prematurely and abruptly interrupt the government," the prime minister said. Conte, who is not affiliated with either party, has accused Salvini of wanting an early vote to allow the League to profit from currently favorable voter sentiment, with opinion polls showing the party as being likely to comfortably win any election in the coming months.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on 09 August 2019 that parliamentarians would have "to get off their bums" and return to Parliament for a no-confidence vote after his far-right League party announced it would submit a corresponding motion to the Senate. Italy's parliamentarians were currently in summer recess. Parliamentary leaders were expected to meet to decide whether to call them back early, with the key votes expected to take place around August 20. If the coalition ended, President Sergio Mattarella will decide whether to call new elections or to select another party leader that could achieve a governing majority.

On 20 August 2019 Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced he would submit his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella, ending Italy's 14-month-old populist government. After Conte's speech, and similar ones by several other prominent lawmakers, the League suddenly revoked its no-confidence motion. Many Italian social media users promptly mocked Salvini for his failed attempt to come out of the crisis looking like the only strong leader in Italy.

Some were hoping for a new coalition with the center-left Democratic Party (PD). The M5S can be loosely defined as left-leaning, but it has often struggled to define exactly what it stands for, and leader Luigi di Maio has also come out against immigration like Salvini. The PD is still headed by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who has been eyeing a chance for a comeback. A new coalition could save Italy from facing snap elections as early as October.

M5S and the center-left Democratic Party (PD) could save themselves, their reputations and the country by agreeing on a new coalition instead of focusing their efforts on a new election. For now, they would still command a majority. However, it appeared that the 5-Star Movement hates the PD more than the right-wing populists.

The unlikely alliance of the far-right League party and left-wing populist 5-Star Movement (M5S) was doomed to failure from the outset. Now Italy is heading for its 66th government since the end of World War II. Matteo Salvini is the most shameless and unscrupulous politician Italy has produced in recent decades. He beat Silvio Berlusconi, for whom decency and restraint were also foreign concepts. If polls are any indication, the Lega leader, along with the help of the far-right Brothers of Italy, could sweep to power in new elections. If that happens, then Salvini an ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin will push Italian politics so far to the right that Brussels will soon have to worry about the rule of law, not just in Hungary or Poland, but also in one of Europe's founding democracies.

Italy's populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the center-left Democratic Party (PD) once bitter rivals put their differences aside and agreed 28 August 2019 to form a new government and prevent new elections. According to Italy's constitution, new elections would have to be held within 50 to 70 days of the end of the government, with the dissolution of parliament, that is, around mid-October.

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Page last modified: 03-09-2019 10:15:13 ZULU