Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he will resign later on Tuesday following a decision by the far-right League party to present a no-confidence motion in the coalition government.
Addressing parliament over the political turmoil unleashed by the League’s move earlier this month to pull the plug on its ruling alliance with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, Conte said on Tuesday he would hand in his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella.
Conte accused League leader Matteo Salvini, deputy prime minister and interior minister, of trying to drag down the coalition for personal and political gain, putting the nation at risk of financial instability.
Italy must agree a budget in the coming months to stave off rising tension with the European Union over Rome’s management of its debts.
“[Salvini] has shown that he is following his own interests and those of his party,” Conte told a packed Senate, with a stony-faced Salvini sitting by his side. “His decisions pose serious risks for this country.”
Mattarela is now expected to begin consultations with party leaders to see if a new coalition can be cobbled together. If parties fail to form a new ruling alliance, the country is expected to go to the polls.
Sitting next to Conte, Salvini at times shook his head, rolled his eyes or nodded to League senators as the prime minister unleashed a blistering critique of his actions over the past two weeks.
Salvini’s popularity been buoyed by his anti-migrant rhetoric and policy, with the League forcing through a new law which criminalises Mediterranean rescue workers and states any ship carrying undocumented migrants in Italian waters may be seized and impounded, and its crew fined anything up to $1.1m.
Salvini has demanded early elections, three and a half years ahead of schedule, confident of sweeping into power as prime minister and pushing the anti-establishment 5-Star into opposition.
But 5-Star worked with the opposition Democrats to frustrate Salvini’s bid to hold a no-confidence vote in the Senate last week, and senior Democrat politicians have been open about the idea of entering coalition, either short- or long-term, with 5-Star.
Such a scenario would see Salvini’s far-right party removed from power altogether.
Italy’s president may also seek to build a coalition between 5-Star and Forza Italia – the shrinking centre-right party led by 82-year-old Silvio Berlusconi – as the parties had worked together to support the nomination of Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen to the presidency of the European Commission.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies