Italian senators are on Monday to take an initial decision on the future of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government after far-right leader Matteo Salvini plunged the country into turmoil by pulling out of the teetering coalition.
Interior Minister Salvini called last week for swift elections after withdrawing the support of his anti-immigration League party from an increasingly acrimonious alliance with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).
While the government still remains in place, the Senate must decide whether to initiate a confidence vote in Conte’s 14-month-old administration.
The heads of political groupings in the upper house are to meet from 1400 GMT Monday. If they agree to back a no-confidence vote they will then decide on a date.
M5S leader Luigi Di Maio and Salvini will first rally their respective lawmakers, with Salvini hoping for a no-confidence vote by August 20 with elections to follow.
A national vote could come at the end of October to capitalise on opinion polls suggesting the League might get 36-38 percent of votes.
But if the Senate party heads cannot agree, the decision will go to a full Senate vote, which the League is not sure to win as it has only 58 of the 315 elected members.
Salvini has also warned that the League’s seven ministers could resign and bring down the government.
Populist leader Salvini effectively ended the ruling alliance on Thursday, saying afterwards he had had enough of working with the M5S and what he said was its refusal to collaborate on key issues.
The two parties have seen a stunning reversal of fortunes since forming a government after the M5S won 32 percent of votes and the League 18 percent in 2018.
Salvini has been taking his message to the beaches at the height of the summer holiday season, seeking to build on the League’s strong showing in May’s European Parliament elections when it won 34 percent of the vote, twice that of the M5S.