Italy’s flamboyant Deputy PM Matteo Salvini managed to end his own government’s term. He hopes for a big win in an early election, but may find himself in the opposition instead, analysts told RT.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation on Tuesday, delivering a scathing attack on Salvini and accusing him of being an “opportunist” and putting his political ambitions ahead of the country’s needs.
The decision was widely expected, since otherwise the government would have faced a vote of no confidence, in which Salvini’s right-wing, anti-immigration League party would have voted to scrap the government. Salvini had earlier called for a snap election, declaring that the coalition between his party and the left-wing Five-Star Movement was no longer workable and that the choice should be given “back to the voters.”
Unlikely government from start
The left-right coalition was formed in June 2018 and resolved a hung parliament crisis. Negotiations on the future government lasted for 88 days and did not produce one until the third attempt. Since then, Salvini has clashed on policy numerous times with Five-Star leader and fellow Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio, most recently over a controversial railway link between Turin and Lyon.
The break-up of the coalition was bound to happen sooner rather than later, former British MP George Galloway told RT.
“The coalition of the right-wing populists and the vaguely left wing populists will break apart and if you think about it, that’s not much of a surprise even in the best of times,” he said, adding that it was “never going to be a marriage that would last forever and they got divorced today.”
And considering Italy’s turbulent political history, some might even say the voters got good mileage from this unlikely alliance.
“Italy has a long history of short governments,” Federiga Bindi, professor of political science at Tor Vergata University, said. “At some point we will say that a government that lasted a year and a half lasted long.”
Snap election to prop up Salvini?
Recent polls indicate that if a general election was held now, the League party would take about 38 percent of the vote, which goes some way toward explaining why Salvini is in favor of a snap election. If he succeeds, he will be able to form a more traditional right-wing government in an alliance with like-minded political forces like Forza Italia of Silvio Berlusconi and Brothers of Italy.
It’s not a straightforward path to victory for Salvini, however. Reports indicate that Five-Star has been in talks with the left-of-center Democratic Party and Conte himself, who is an independent, to determine if a broad left-wing coalition could be formed in parliament, which may avert the need for a new election.
“Salvini may find himself in opposition, where he did not want to be, without a possibility of going to the elections and going back to the government,” Aldo Paparo, a researcher at the Italian Center for Electoral Studies in Rome, told RT. “We are in uncharted waters.”
So far, the crisis has changed little in Italy’s policies. After all, the same people are at the helm, only now as a caretaker government. But it creates further uncertainty with Italy’s unresolved budget problems. In a worse-case scenario it may be forced to withdraw from the euro, which Galloway predicts would have a “knock-on effect of seismic proportions.”
Salvini said last week, however, that the idea of leaving the euro has “never been in the pipeline” despite the League’s Eurosceptic positions.