Italy’s government on the brink of collapse as deputy leader calls for elections

August 9, 2019

Political turmoil has returned to Rome with one of the country’s deputy prime ministers calling for snap elections and declaring that the coalition government is unworkable.

The coalition has been on a rocky path since it first came to power in June 2018. There has been clear confrontation between the two-party coalition — formed of the leftist, anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the anti-immigration, populist Lega party. The most recent clash happened earlier this week, when parliament rejected a motion by M5S to block a high-speed rail link — and thus support Lega which is in favor of the project.

“Let’s quickly give the say back to the voters,” Matteo Salvini, deputy prime minister and Lega leader, told the media Thursday evening. Salvini argued that the parliamentary vote on the high-speed rail link showed that the current government doesn’t have the majority it needs to pass laws. However, critics of Salvini believe his willingness to have a fresh election is an attempt to capitalize on his recent rise in popularity.

Lega is currently polling ahead of all other Italian parties at 38%. It came to power as the junior coalition partner, but Salvini’s tough rhetoric has helped to boost its popularity in a country where immigration is a key issue. M5S has, meanwhile, seen its support drop and is currently polling third at 17%.

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