Italy’s Government Collapsed


{ Italy Government Crisis – Stock Market News } … Italy’s government collapsed, plunging the economically fragile country into deeper political turmoil, and triggering a scramble to form a new governing coalition to keep the increasingly popular far-right out of power.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation in a speech to the Senate on Tuesday, blaming far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for causing a political crisis as Italy looks to draw up a challenging budget to keep its parlous finances on track.


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Mr. Salvini, a rising political force from Europe’s insurgent far-right, began pressing for snap elections on Aug. 8, in a bid to capitalize on opinion polls that show his nativist League has become Italy’s most popular party, with around 36% support. The League has served as the junior coalition partner of the populist 5 Star Movement since summer 2018.

Leaders of 5 Star are exploring the only plausible alternative to snap elections the League would likely win: a new coalition government with their longstanding foes, the mainstream center-left Democratic Party. Talks in coming days could show whether such a coalition is possible or early elections are needed.

Italy-news

Italy’s power struggle is a symptom of Europe’s continuing political upheaval after a decade of crises including the economic depression in the periphery of the eurozone and the pressures of rising immigration from poor and war-torn parts of Africa and the Middle East.

European voters’ allegiances have become increasingly volatile amid eroding public confidence in the mainstream conservative and social-democratic parties that for decades dominated government in European Union countries.

Insurgent movements from the anticapitalist far-left to the nativist far-right have made inroads. The new forces also include ideologically eclectic groups such as 5 Star, which grew out of anticorruption protests, as well as centrist upstarts such as French President Emmanuel Macron.

The political upheaval has gone further in Italy than in most other EU countries. In March 2018 elections, Italy’s mainstream parties suffered a heavy defeat. In a country tired of economic stagnation and ineffectual political incumbents, one in three Italians backed 5 Star, while the League won 17% of the vote.


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Since then, however, 5 Star has struggled in government and its support has halved, while Mr. Salvini’s tough stance on immigration has helped double support for the League.

If Italy holds early elections, Mr. Salvini could become the first leader of a major EU nation who comes from a self-described populist party to the right of Europe’s mainstream conservatives. Mr. Salvini, an avowed admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has challenged the EU’s rules on fiscal discipline, accusing Germany and France of hypocritically breaking the rules while imposing austerity on Italy.

Some League officials have advocated Italy’s exit from the euro, although Mr. Salvini says it isn’t on his agenda. Mr. Conte, a nonparty premier close to 5 Star, attacked Mr. Salvini for undermining the government in which Mr. Salvini has served as interior minister since June 2018. Mr. Salvini said on Aug. 8 that he wanted to “ask the Italians if they want to give me full powers.” Some critics pointed out that Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini used a similar phrase to demand power in 1922.

“We don’t need people with full powers, but people with a culture of (respect for) institutions and a sense of responsibility,” Mr. Conte told the Senate on Tuesday. He accused Mr. Salvini of putting personal and party interests ahead of the country’s needs and of lacking respect for Italy’s constitution. “We are the only supposed fascists who want a vote,” Mr. Salvini replied.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella is expected to sound out party leaders in coming days to see whether a new governing majority can be assembled in Parliament. If not, snap elections could take place as early as late October.


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Opinion polls suggest the League could currently win an outright majority in Parliament together with two smaller allies: the far-right Brothers of Italy and the conservative Forza Italia of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Mr. Salvini’s push to bring down the government and trigger snap elections has caused some disquiet in the League, where some other senior officials have privately criticized their leader’s timing.

Italy has to submit a draft budget plan to the EU by Oct. 15, and pass a budget law by 2020, that satisfies EU rules by reducing Italy’s deficit and its high national debt. The government needs to find significant savings to avoid an already legislated increase in value-added tax, the equivalent of U.S. sales tax, which could hurt already-fragile consumer spending.

Passing a budget that avoids the tax increase in the middle of a government collapse and snap elections could prove difficult. Mr. Conte, 5 Star and the opposition Democrats have accused Mr. Salvini of risking financial uncertainty and possibly a recession.

Mr. Salvini repeated on Tuesday that he wants to slash income taxes and, if necessary, defy EU authorities. “I am not afraid. The League is not afraid,” he told the Senate, describing his party as “free people, who answer only to the Italian people, not to Merkel or Macron.” As opposition senators jeered, a defiant Mr. Salvini said: “You’ve decided upon the target. Here I am. You’ve decided upon the danger to Italy and Europe. Here I am.”




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