Conte’s government comes to an end

epa07782238 Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte (R) shakes hands with Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini (L) prior to his address to the Senate in Rome, Italy, 20 August 2019. Conte in his address called bringing about the government crisis irresponsible. Salvini and his party League pulled out from government and caused a political crisis a week ago. EPA-EFE/ETTORE FERRARI

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Matteo Salvini was “irresponsible and opportunist” and showed a “grave lack of constitutional culture” in triggering a government crisis solely to cash in on surging poll numbers, Premier Giuseppe Conte said Tuesday, saying the government’s action stops here”. The timing of the crisis, he went on, showed “political opportunism” and Salvini made a “gesture of institutional imprudence”.

The League’s “drumming” about new elections was “offensive for the activity of the government,” he added.

He said Salvini had sought “a pretext for the crisis” in the 5-Star Movement’s opposition to a French rail link after the League scored highly in the recent European elections.

He said Salvini was “concerning” in his conception of managing power by “rabble-rousing” people in the streets. Conte also said Italy’s Constitution precluded “authoritarian methods”, referring to Salvini’s controversial call for the people to grant him “full powers” in a snap vote.

In Europe, he said, Salvini’s “contrarian” views had sparked “confusion”.

He said Salvini did not have a “sense of the rules” and said he should have addressed parliament on a case of the League allegedly seeking Russian funding.

Conte also criticised Salvini for brandishing rosaries and other religious symbols while announcing policy moves such as a crackdown on migrants. “Your use of religious symbols is unconscionable”, he said. Conte said “the ongoing (government) crisis compromises the action of this government, which stops here.

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