Italian prime minister resigns as populist leader Salvini demands snap election

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation on Tuesday amid the populist League party’s calls for a no-confidence vote and a snap election.

Conte’s resignation was prompted after Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister whose League is in a coalition government with the 5 Star party, tabled the no-confidence motion 12 days ago.

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The resignation won’t automatically trigger a snap election, but it will be up to President Sergio Mattarella to decide whether to call a new election or let the 5 Star party try to form another government.

Italian deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini talks to journalists after meeitng with Entrepreneurs and Labor Unions representatives at the Viminale, the Interior Ministry building, in Rome, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (ANSA via AP)

Conte blasted Salvini as “irresponsible” for putting the country into a political crisis and said it will have “major consequences on the country and its economy.”

“This government terminates here,” Conte said during a speech to the Senate in Rome.

Salvini, who leads the anti-European Union and anti-immigration party, has been enjoying a surging popularity that encouraged him to call for an election in a bid to gain more power.

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He officially pulled his support from the government coalition this month, saying it no longer has a workable majority.

Salvini’s push for new elections is also favored by Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the far-right Brothers of Italy party.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte addresses the Senate on allegations that The League party sought Russian funding, in Rome, Tuesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

But fresh elections may not happen as 5 Star are reportedly in talks with the establishment center-left Democratic Party to possibly form a new government.

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The political crisis in Italy comes as the country is facing economic difficulties and a standoff with the EU that demands that the Italian government enact a series of austerity measures in exchange for necessary financial support.

Salvini has openly scorned the EU’s demands and instead promised the Italian people on Tuesday to introduce tax cuts and public spending worth $55 billion if he takes control of the government