Italian PM Resigns, Attacks Populist Salvini As Government Collapses

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte delivers his speech on the budget law at the Senate, in Rom
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has resigned, forcing the collapse of the populist coalition between the Five Star Movement and Matteo Salvini’s Populist-right Lega (League).

The Italian PM was set to face a vote of no confidence brought by Salvini’s party after the Five Star Movement overwhelmingly opposed a recent vote on the Italian-French TAV train tunnel project.

On the floor of the Italian senate, Mr Conte blasted Salvini, accusing the Interior Minister of “political opportunism,” according to a report from Italian newspaper Il Giornale.

“Government crises are faced in Parliament, not in the public squares,” Conte continued and slammed Salvini for various issues including his use of religious symbols, a critique often deployed by members of the Roman Catholic clergy hostile to Salvini’s anti-mass migration policies.

While he announced his resignation as Prime Minister, Conte said that he hoped Italian President Sergio Mattarrella would not choose to hold a snap election, saying it could block current reforms.

” I announce that I intend to complete this institutional step in a coherent manner. The President of the Republic will lead the country in this constitutional passage. I take this opportunity to renew my thanks for the advice he has always given me,” Conte said.

The decision on the way forward for the Italian parliament now rests with the Italian President who, along with being able to call new elections, could call on the Five Star Movement (M5S) to form another working coalition.

Some have suggested that the M5S could partner with the establishment left-wing Democratic Party (PD) but others, such as Lega Senate leader Massimiliano Romeo, say that such a move would only help funnel even more votes to Salvini’s party.

“If I were to make a utilitarian calculation, with an M5S-Renzi government we will reach 60% in a few months,” Romeo said.

He added that the departure of Lega from the Italian government would harm Italy saying, “It would lose sovereignty. And we would return under the thumb of Merkel.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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