Salvini supports continued coalition before issuing warning

Matteo Salvini (left), Giuseppe Conte (centre) and Luigi Di Maio (right). Photo credit: La Repubblica

ROME - Italian deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini publicly supported the coalition agreement between his League party and the 5 Star Movement (M5S) before going on to issue a warning to his governmental partners that the relationship would have to be reassessed unless swift policy changes were made.

 “I have no intention of making the government fall,” Salvini declared, “but the government is paid to act, ministers and presidents are paid to act… [so] if in 15 days we find ourselves with the same delays, the same postponements [to government actions] then we will have a problem.”

 Salvini’s words come at a tense time for the government, after a momentous upheaval in the support for the two parties was exacerbated by May’s European elections. While the M5S entered the government as the majority party with 32.7 per cent of the vote in 2018, their support plummeted to just 17.1 per cent in last month’s elections. Salvini’s League on the other hand soared from 17.4 per cent to 34.3 per cent in the same period, shifting the balance of power in the coalition and exposing further cracks in their relationship.

 While both parties have now pledged their support to the coalition, continued parliamentary bickering has side-tracked policy changes since the election took place and left the government at an impasse.

 Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has since called on both sides to collaborate to tackle, amongst other issues, Italy’s economy, unemployment and most recently its policy on construction sites and ongoing works. The latter point has proved a particularly contentious issue in recent days with the M5S accusing Salvini’s party of undermining months of joint work and progress by calling the policy into question.

 “This amendment presented by the League… is nonsense, a folly,” declared Danilo Toninelli, Italy’s Infrastructure Minister. “It throws out months of work… It makes us doubt [them] and believe that this is only a pretext to create chaos and bring down the government.”

 Conte subsequently appealed to the League to collaborate, given the limited time frame, to ensure the project came to fruition.