The leader of Italy’s largest nationalist party, Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, has demanded a snap election. The move dooms the fragile governing coalition. This could see Salvini’s party move from a coalition partner to Italy’s sole governing party.
Salvini said, “Let’s go immediately to the Parliament and verify that there is no longer a majority, as was evident in the vote on the TAV, and quickly return the word to voters.”
The league is currently in an uneasy coalition government with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. It is marred by infighting since it formed last year. No party has come close to winning a parliamentary majority. Since then 5-Star’s poll numbers have plummeted.
The League has soared buoyed in part by Salvini’s hard stance on illegal migration from Africa. The government this week passed a bill to fine NGO ships picking up migrants in the Mediterranean and enter Italian waters up to 1 million euros.
Salvini has feuded with international NGO’s, E.U. leaders, and members of the coalition government. The leaders include 5-Star leader Luigi di Maio and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
The tensions intensified over an E.U.-funded high-speed rail link (known as TAV) with France. The project is backed by the League but opposed by 5-Star. After a meeting with Conte, Salvini announced his plans.
Conte accused Salvini of capitalizing on a recent surge in polling for the League. In a press conference he said, “Salvini told me that he intended to interrupt this government experience to have elections in order to capitalize on the support the League currently enjoys.” League senators have presented a motion of no-confidence vote in Conte. If there is vote of no-confidence, it would be up to Italian President Sergio Mattarella to call for a new election.
Salvini needs at least 40 percent of seats in an election to form a government. Recent polls have put the League polling at around 36 percent, with the left-wing Democratic Party polling at 21 percent. Five-Star, meanwhile has been polling at 18 percent.
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