Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced his resignation in a speech today on the floor of the Senate in which he also sharply criticised Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for causing a political crisis for his own electoral gain. Conte will now go to the Quirinal Palace to meet with President Sergio Mattarella to formalise his resignation.
“This government ends here,” Conte said during a one hour speech in which he accused League leader Salvini of “political opportunism,” disdain for Italy’s institutions and throwing the country into a “vortex of political uncertainty and financial instability.”
The political crisis began on August 8 when Matteo Salvini announced that he was withdrawing his support for the prime minister and demanded the immediate call for early elections, ending the government coalition formed by his party and the Five Star Movement.
The reason Salvini gave for scuppering the coalition was the lack of agreement with his allies on key issues such as taxes or infrastructure. Recent voter intention surveys have put Salvini’s anti-immigration League party at over thirty percent in the polls, which is believed to be the motivation behind his decision to seek fresh elections, in which he would hope to win enough support to govern without the Five Star Movement.
“Making citizens vote is the essence of democracy, but asking them to vote every year is irresponsible,” said Giuseppe Conte. “The country urgently needs measures to promote economic growth and investment,” said Conte.
In his reply to Conte’s speech, Salvini, invoking “the protection of the immaculate heart of Mary”, insisted that he “would do the same thing thing again” and attacked his former allies of the M5S. “If this government falls, it is because of these gentlemen who always say no and block everything,” he said, accusing other parliamentarians of “being afraid of the judgment of the people.”
It will now be up to the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella to determine whether to convene early parliamentary elections or if it is possible to form another coalition government.
Matteo Salvini wants early elections to be convened this autumn.