QUITE A FEW things have melted away in this torrid European summer. By August 8th, the Italian government too looked ready to dissolve within days after Matteo Salvini, leader of the hard right Northern League, the dominant party in Italy’s all-populist coalition, signalled he was withdrawing his support. In a statement he said the League’s always-improbable partnership with the environmentalist, pro-welfare Five Star Movement (M5S) had become unworkable and that the solution was an early election.
“It is pointless to go forward on the basis of [vetoes] and disputes,” he declared. And, indeed, the two parties have clashed over almost everything recently from regional autonomy to judicial reform and security policy to safeguards against corruption. But the crisis that blew up on August 8th nevertheless came as a shock, just three days after the League and M5S appeared to have settled their differences over a bill, sponsored by Mr Salvini as interior minister, that introduces draconian penalties for NGOs attempting to bring rescued migrants into Italian ports.