Italy’s Head of State Opens Formal Consultations with Political Parties

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Italy’s president begins consultations on Wednesday on seeing if there is any way another working coalition government can be formed following Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s resignation. The head of state wants to see if he can avoid dissolving parliament three-and-a-half years ahead of schedule. If not, the country will hold a snap general election in the fall.

President Sergio Mattarella is scheduled to meet all of the country’s political parties to see if a new coalition can be formed that will allow the present parliament, elected in March 2018, to continue to sit. The consultations follow the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, which he announced in the upper house of parliament Tuesday afternoon.

Conte said the decision of the League party which requested a no-confidence vote on the government had forced him to interrupt this government experience. Conte accused the League party leader and the country’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini, of bringing down the ruling coalition for personal and political gain.

Some two weeks ago, Salvini declared the coalition unworkable and called for a snap general election. Addressing the senators, Conte attacked what he called Salvini’s irresponsible and reckless behavior, saying it was “liable to tip the country into a spiral of political uncertainty and financial instability.”

Conte said Salvini took on a huge responsibility promoting this government crisis.

The outgoing prime minister said he was worried by Salvini’s demand for “full powers” and his threat to call people into the country’s squares if his drive for elections was thwarted.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte, right, looks at Deputy-Premier Matteo Salvini who addresses the Senate in Rome, Aug. 20, 2019.

For his part, when Salvini addressed the Senate after Conte, he said he would do everything again just as he had done, adding he is a free man and not fearful of what Italians would think. He said other parties were scared to go to elections because they were scared to lose their seats in parliament.

Salvini and his League party are riding high in opinion polls with just under 40 percent. His anti-immigration policies have served him well since he came to power.

The Italian president is likely to push for a quick decision and one that will avoid the dissolution of the current parliament. One possible scenario is a new coalition formed by the Five Star Movement and the Left Democrats party, a solution that is exactly what Salvini does not want.

But if the consultations fail, a general election could be held before the end of October at a time the country should be focusing instead on drawing up its 2020 budget.


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