Italy Avoids A General Election
It seems that the ploy of Matteo Salvini of the League (formerly the Northern League) to force a general election by bringing about the demise of the coalition between his party and the Five Star Movement has come to nothing.
Salvini triggered a no confidence vote against the prime minister of the coalition that he was a member of, prompting the PM, Giuseppe Conte to resign. The plan was that this would bring about a general election where his party, the League, could capitalise on the recent gains that it had made at local and European elections. However, Italy’s President, Sergio Mattarella, whilst accepting Conte’s resignation asked him to remain in a caretaker role whilst politicians evaluated the prospects of forming a new coalition government.
A consensus has emerged between the Democratic Party (PD) and the Five Star Movement to form a new coalition which would see Conte remain as PM. The PD’s Nicola Zingaretti said: "We consider it worthwhile to try this experience. In difficult times like these, shunning our responsibility to have the courage to try this is something we cannot afford".
It is assumed that the President will agree to the formation of a new government with Mr Conte at the helm. The mandate of the coalition (baring the usual Italian political fireworks, of course) would run until the next planned elections in 2023.
Salvini is regarded by many as a right-wing populist who found electoral support by taking a tough stance on illegal immigration (Italy is a popular landing spot for refugees and economic migrants and EU level actions to spread the load of accommodating refugees have run aground. Under international law, refugees should be provided with a place of safety, but illegal (economic) migrants have no such rights. The distinction is often lost on the public and the matter of immigration (legal or otherwise) is an emotive one in many countries).
It is possible that the involvement of PD in government, a “traditional” political force in Italy, will go some way to easing tensions with the EU over the previous government’s spending plans which would have broken EU rules.