Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced he is resigning on Tuesday, at the end of a Senate debate on his government prompted by far-right leader Matteo Salvini.
“I’m ending this government experience here… I will go to the president of the republic (Sergio Mattarella) to inform him of my resignation”, Conte said, paving the way for a snap election.
In a searing attack, Conte accused Salvini, his interior minister, of trying to drag down Italy’s ruling coalition for personal and political gain, putting the stability of the country at risk and endangering the economy.
Conte lashed out at Salvini
Addressing parliament after it was recalled from its summer recess to decide the future of the barely year-old government, Conte accused League party chief Salvini of seeking to cash in on his rising popularity.
“(Salvini) has shown that he is following his own interests and those of his party,” Conte told a packed Senate, with a stony-faced Salvini sitting by his side. “His decisions pose serious risks for this country.”
Conte belongs to neither of the coalition’s two parties. His resignation opens the way for the head of state to begin consultations with parties to see if a new coalition can be formed.
Salvini dismissive of attack
Failing that, President Sergio Mattarella will dissolve parliament.
Salvini shook his head, rolled his eyes or nodded to League senators as the prime minister unleashed a blistering critique of his actions over the past two weeks.
On the other side of Conte sat Luigi Di Maio, head of the League’s now-estranged coalition partner, the 5-Star Movement, which was branded as obstructionists by Salvini over the past 12 days, since he pulled the plug on their alliance.
Salvini has demanded early elections, 3-1/2 years ahead of schedule, confident his surging popularity will sweep him into power as prime minister and push the anti-establishment 5-Star into opposition.