Published: Tue, August 13, 2019

Italy edges closer to an election, perhaps in late October

Italy edges closer to an election, perhaps in late October

Italy's League filed a no-confidence motion to bring down its own governing coalition on Friday, a move that the party's populist chief, Matteo Salvini, hopes will trigger snap elections and install him as the nation's new leader.

Background: The League triggered a political crisis in Italy on August 8 when it asked for a new general election, virtually ending its alliance with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

On Thursday, Salvini, who heads the Lega party, which is part of the coalition, said he had informed the prime minister that a snap election was needed since the parliament no longer had a majority to support the government.

The eurozone's third-largest economy is suffering from vast political uncertainty, with the shock announcement fuelling even more feuding between the right-win League and the coalition party, the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

The heads of political groups in Italy's Senate will meet on Monday to set a timetable for the no-confidence vote, the upper house press office said in a statement on Friday.

If an election is announced, it will be the first election to be held in autumn by Italy in all of the post-war period.

Parliament has closed for the summer recess and it is up to the president of the senate to decide when to recall it, Reuters said.

The disagreements escalated on Wednesday when parliament rejected a motion by M5S to block a high-speed rail project linking Italy and France.

Markets sold off Italian government bonds early on Thursday and the day proceeded with closed-door meetings between Salvini and Conte and between Conte and Mattarella.

In an allusion to the souring relationship between the coalition partners, Mr Salvini also denounced "repeated insults against me and the League by supposed allies".

Salvini's shock decision on Thursday to pull the plug on the 14-month old government threw the euro zone's third-largest economy into deeper political uncertainty just as it was due to start 2020 budget preparations.

Meanwhile, another former Italian premier, Matteo Renzi, proposed Sunday that a broad spectrum of parties unite behind a technocratic government that could "save" the country from taking an "extremist" path and prepare new elections without undue haste.

Sergio Mattarella, the president of Italy, is the only authority who can dissolve parliament and call an election.

The prime minister added that he had assured Salvini that he would ensure the transparency of the ongoing crisis.

Support for the Five-Star Movement has halved since it emerged as the biggest party in the last election in March 2018.

The 5-Star Movement's fortunes have sunk conversely, from almost 33% of the vote in the national elections, giving it more seats in parliament than its partners, to just 17% in the European elections.

The Five Star leader Luigi di Maio insists that reform of parliament has to come before elections.

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