Italian PM to resign after far-right ally pulls backing to further own interests

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Italian premier Giuseppe Conte has told senators he is handing in his resignation because his far-right coalition partner, the League party led by interior minister Matteo Salvini, has decided to withdraw support for his government.

As The Canary previously reported, the Italian government has been pushing increasingly stringent anti-immigration policies. Thousands of people are at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean as a result. Salvini’s party has also followed through on a plan to criminalise humanitarian rescue workers, who could face fines of up to $1.1m.

Salvini said he triggered a government crisis in the middle of the summer because he does not fear the prospect of an early vote.

He addressed senators on Tuesday after Conte’s announcement spelled the end of the populist government forged only 14 months ago.

Salvini said he would “do again everything I did … I’m a free man and I don’t fear Italians’ judgment”.

He has been manoeuvring to become Italy’s next leader as support for his party grows on his anti-immigrant stance.

Earlier, Conte had blasted him for his “irresponsible” move that has abruptly interrupted the work of the government. He added that Salvini has acted only to pursue his “personal interests” and capitalise on his current popularity.

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Conte also stressed that a sudden government crisis puts Italy at risk of “political and financial instability”.

Conte said he will go later on Tuesday to officially inform President Sergio Mattarella of his decision.

Mattarella, as head of state, could ask Conte to stay on and try to find an alternative majority in parliament, or accept his resignation and see if another leader can forge an alternative coalition.

Failing that, the president could dissolve parliament, setting the stage for a new general election as early as October.

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