Italy’s political crisis: Nearly 15 months of high drama

Rome – Here is a recap of nearly 15 months of drama in Italian politics, after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was handed a mandate to form a new government last week.

 

– Populist coalition –

 

The foundation for the crisis is laid in March 2018 legislative elections, which shook the order of Italian politics that has been in place for half a century.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), led by Luigi Di Maio, becomes the leading single party with 32 percent, with the anti-migrant League party, led by Matteo Salvini, third with 17 percent.

A coalition government grouping the two parties is officially formed on June 1, 2018, after weeks of negotiations, with little-known lawyer Conte as a compromise pick for prime minister.

It is the first time that a purely populist administration holds power in a founding member of the European Union since its inception.

Di Maio and Salvini are joint deputy prime ministers.

But very quickly Salvini, who is also interior minister, raises his profile, in particular making waves by closing Italian ports to immigrants and asylum seekers.

 

– Multiple conflicts –

 

A clash between Di Maio and Salvini leads to several conflicts at the heart of the coalition, raising doubts over the longevity of the government.

Among the disagreements: financing a multi-billion-euro high-speed train line between Lyon and Turin.

 

– European elections –

 

In a historic success for the far-right, Salvini’s League party wins the most votes in the May 2019 European elections in Italy with 34 percent.

On June 3 Conte says he is ready to resign unless the two parties in the coalition stop squabbling.

 

– Coalition cracks up –

 

On August 7, M5S votes in parliament against financing the Lyon-Turin rail link.

The next day Salvini pulls the League out of the governing coalition with M5S, calling for fresh elections he thought would see him become premier.

The League also tables a motion of no-confidence against Conte in the Senate, which instead decides the premier should address the crisis on August 20.

The abandoned M5S finds an unexpected ally in the opposition Democratic Party (PD) and former centre-left premier Matteo Renzi, now PD senator.

Renzi offers the M5S support for a pragmatic coalition.

 

– Conte resigns –

 

On August 20 Conte resigns, lashing out at Salvini for pursuing his own interests by pulling the plug on the coalition.

On August 22, President Sergio Mattarella sets a deadline for the squabbling parties to form a workable coalition government, failing which snap elections will be held.

 

– New coalition accord –

 

On August 28, the M5S and PD, once bitter foes, agree to govern in a coalition under Conte.

The next day President Mattarella gives Conte a mandate to form a new government.