Matteo Salvini slipped the rosary out of his pocket right before Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte began his speech to Parliament. He took it out and kissed it again midway through the address, just as Conte began admonishing him for exploiting his Catholic faith for political ends. The interior minister’s blatant brandishing of Catholic symbols has gone down as one of the most significant exchanges of his successful bid to topple Conte’s 14-month-old government, which collapsed Tuesday after Salvini’s League party withdrew its support. While right-wing populists in the U.S. and Europe have increasingly invoked their Christian roots to justify policies against Muslims and other migrants, Salvini’s gestures and rhetoric have carried particular resonance here since they directly challenge those of Italy’s other major figure: Pope Francis. Francis has made caring for migrants a hallmark of his papacy, traveling to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa in 2013 in his first trip as pope to comfort would-be refugees who survived shipwrecks and smugglers to reach Europe. He brought 12 Syrians home with him when he visited a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, three years later, and he has turned over Vatican apartments to house new arrivals to Italy. Salvini’s challenge to Francis’ core message has not gone unnoticed by the Vatican or the Italian Catholic Church, although it remains to be seen whether his explicit religious display will resonate with rank-and-file Italians. While Italy is a majority Catholic country, many Italians don’t go to church regularly and support abortion, contraception and other
Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who heads the far-right League party, announced last Thursday that he would file a motion of no-confidence in the government and wanted early elections. Fast forward a week and the coalition government is still in office, with no clear picture emerging of what will happen next, or even when. Here are some of the scenarios and possible moves. WHY HASN’T THE GOVERNMENT ALREADY COLLAPSED? The far-right League won only 17 percent of the vote in a 2018 national election and does not have enough lawmakers to impose a timetable for its no-confidence motion. Playing for time, and making clear they will not be pushed around by Salvini, the ruling 5-Star Movement, the opposition centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the leftist LEU party voted together on Tuesday to push the debate on the government into next week. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is due to address the Senate on Aug. 20 about the turmoil. At the end of his speech he could do what other prime ministers have done in similar situations and go straight to President Sergio Mattarella and resign, opening a formal crisis. But the picture has been clouded by Salvini’s unexpected pledge on Tuesday to pass a reform cutting the number of lawmakers. This parliamentary vote is scheduled for Aug. 22 and will almost certainly not be able to take place if the government falls beforehand. SO AUG. 22 BECOMES THE KEY DATE? Not necessarily. Cutting the number of lawmakers
Italy’s coalition government was in crisis Friday after far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini pulled his support and called for snap elections. The heightened political tensions in the heavily-indebted country — the eurozone’s third largest economy — rattled financial markets, where yields rose on Italian government bonds. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who has held several rounds of talks to try to ease the crisis in the 14-month-old government, angrily called on Salvini to justify his move. Salvini has clashed frequently in recent weeks with his fellow Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) over a range of policies. He upped the pressure Thursday, saying there was no longer a majority to support a government and calling for new elections. “Let’s go straight to parliament to say there is no longer a majority… and quickly go back to the voters,” Matteo Salvini said. The move sparked a crisis described by the left-wing newspaper La Repubblica as “a farce that makes no-one laugh”. Shifting political sands Conte, who has held separate talks with Salvini and President Sergio Mattarella, went on the offensive, saying it was not for the firebrand interior minister to summon parliament. He called on Salvini “to explain to the country and justify to the electorate, who believed in the possibility of change, the reasons that brought him to abruptly interrupt” the activities of government. Both houses of parliament are currently on recess for the holidays and are not due back until September. Long-rumbling tensions
Support for Italy’s far-right League has fallen following weeks of feuding with its coalition partner the 5-Star Movement, opinion polls showed on Friday in the run-up to elections for the European Parliament in late May.
With backing for 5-Star holding steady, the League appeared to be paying the price for the constant cabinet tensions, which culminated this week in a junior League minister being turfed out of government after being engulfed in a corruption scandal.
Friday was the last day that opinion polls can be published in Italy ahead of the May 26 EU vote, with four separate surveys all showing the League, which is led by Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, in decline.
Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said there was no government crisis after a row broke out in the ruling coalition over a tax amnesty draft bill, Il Messaggero said on Friday citing Salvini. The 5-Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, said a dispute with coalition partner the League over a tax amnesty needed to be sorted.