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Italy's Salvini warns against 5-Star/PD government

Italy's Salvini warns against 5-Star/PD government

Italy's League filed a no-confidence motion to bring down its own governing coalition on Friday, a move that the party's populist chief, Matteo Salvini, hopes will trigger snap elections and install him as the nation's new leader.

As interior minister and often serving as the global face of the government, Salvini has feuded with worldwide NGO's, European Union leaders, and members of the coalition government - including 5-Star leader Luigi di Maio and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Salvini's League is now in an uneasy coalition government with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, marred by infighting since it formed previous year after no party came close to winning a parliamentary majority.

"I reiterated today to Premier Conte that we should go to parliament immediately to acknowledge that the ruling majority no longer exists, as shown by the TAV vote", Salvini, who is also interior minister, said in a statement after a meeting with the premier.

Luigi di Maio's Five Star movement took power with the nationalist League in June 2018, but the relationship has since soured and the League's poll ratings have risen dramatically.

The no-confidence vote could be held on August 20, although Mr Salvini is pushing for a date next week.

If an election is announced, it will be the first election to be held in autumn by Italy in all of the post-war period. I don't believe we will go to elections but I am still terrified by what comes next'.

The two parties voted against each other on Wednesday over a project for a high-speed rail link between Turin in northern Italy and the French city of Lyon.

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He stepped up the pressure on Thursday, saying there was no longer a majority to support a government and calling for new elections.

But since then, 5-Star's poll numbers have plummeted, while the League's have soared - buoyed in part by Salvini's hard stance on illegal migration from Africa.

The spread between Italian benchmark bonds and safer German Bunds widened early on Thursday by 12 basis points, with traders citing reports that Salvini wanted to sack Economy Minister Giovanni Tria, who is well-regarded by investors.

However, it was not all sunshine for Salvini in Policoro, one of the southern areas where M5S did well in last year's general election. It was unclear when that might happen, since parliament has adjourned for the summer holiday.

Italy continues to struggle with a budget deficit and huge national debt of more than €2.3 trillion ($2.6 trillion).

Opinion polls suggest the League could win 38% of the vote in a fresh election, putting it within reach of controlling both houses of parliament without a coalition partner.

Only President Sergio Mattarella has the power to dissolve parliament and he may be unwilling to do so ahead of preparatory work in September for the 2020 budget, which must be presented to parliament and the European Commission the following month.