Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella on Tuesday, perhaps prompting yet another change in government in the southern European nation.
Conte’s resignation comes during escalating turbulence in the left-right, populist coalition government.
Announcing his resignation with Deputy Ministers Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League party on his right, and Luigi Di Maio of the left-leaning Five Star Movement to his left, Conte added to the turbulence.
The PM slammed Salvini as “irresponsible and opportunist”, saying he showed “grave lack of constitutional culture” by triggering the government crisis.
But Salvini and his party currently lead in national polls, raising questions over Conte and Five Stars’ relevance in government.
The outgoing PM’s statements coincide with a surge in the League’s poll numbers. He says this demonstrates Salvini’s “political opportunism”.
“I would do it all again,” Salvini blasted back, adding that he is “not afraid of the judgment of the [Italian voters]”, and asserting that some in the Italian parliament “are afraid of the judgement of the Italian people”.
Recent European Union parliamentary elections showed anti-establishment views, including those of Salvini, are not “confusing” to European voters as Conte claimed in his earlier statement. Rather, Italians seem very keen on handing Salvini and the League the full power of the Italian government.
Britain’s Brexit Party won by nearly eleven per cent in the EU elections, gaining 29 seats; while Salvini’s League won by nearly twelve per cent.
In the 2018 general election the League collected only 17.4 per cent of the vote, whilst the Five Star Movement had the plurality at 32.7 per cent.
A year and a half later, the parties have traded places and the margin has grown in the League’s favor.
Although yet to be confirmed, an election is on the immediate horizon for Italy, and will usher in Italy’s 68th government in just 74 years.
With Prime Minister Conte looking to exit, the government has all but officially fallen apart. Moreover, the Five Star Movement may have just lost its most powerful ally, spelling trouble for the populist, anti-establishment left.
Italy’s Democratic Party is polling ahead of the Five Star Movement at 22.4 per cent, which has led to speculation about a potential coalition between the socialist Democratic Party (PD) and the Five Star Movement.
Although falling short of a majority, the potential center-left coalition could win a plurality over the League on its own.
The League and Salvini know this, and are scouting a coalition of their own which could include the increasingly popular Brothers of Italy alongside Silvio Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia.
If an alliance was to form amongst the three parties, they would be comparable to, if not a few points ahead of the centre-left coalition.
Assuming the alliances form as speculated, the current polling would put the two coalitions too close to call.
Sofia Carbone is a reporter for RaheemKassam.com and tweets at @SiCarbone_