In the middle of the holiday season, Italy seems set for renewed instability after Interior Minister Salvini called for a new election based on his party’s high polling.
Italy’s governing coalition, which is made up of the Five-Star and Lega parties, is in crisis after Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the head of the far right Lega party, called for early elections.
But the populist party cannot break up the coalition on its own, the suggestion of a new vote was rejected by Five-Star, which has been Lega’s coalition partner since June 2018.
The position of prime minister was taken over by the unaffiliated Giuseppe Conte.
In European elections in May 2019, Lega became the most popular party in Italy with 34 percent of the vote.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is best known as one of the leading voices in Europe against refugees and has refused to allow boats and ships carrying people rescued from the Mediterranean to enter Italian ports.
With more than two trillion euros of debt, Italy has one of the highest national debts in the world.
What does the future hold?
Several scenarios are now possible, including the possibility that Prime Minister Conte submits his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella. The president can instruct him to find a majority with different parties. To do this, however, parliament would have to be reopened as MPs are currently on holiday.
If it is possible to patch up ties between Lega and Five-Star Movement, Salvini could force its coalition partner and Five-Star leader Luigi Di Maio to accept a new reform programme geared entirely to Lega. These include two projects that have been slowed down to date and are particularly important to the people in the north of the country, where the majority of Salvini's electorate live: more autonomy and less taxes.
Officially, however, the end of the coalition will only be heralded when Conte announces the failure of his cabinet and resigns.
Then all decision-making sovereignty would first lie with Mattarella, the head of state. He could dissolve the chambers and call new elections, as Salvini is demanding.
An election date would not be possible until mid-October at the earliest.