Published On: Tue, Sep 3rd, 2019

Turmoil in Europe: Conte fights to freeze out Salvini as Sanchez races to avoid election | World | News

Mr Conte launched a stinging attack on Mr Salvini, leader of the League and the country’s interior minister, who had pulled his party out of the coalition Government in an attempt to force a general election, at the same time as offering his resignation to Italy’s head of state, Sergio Mattarella on August 20. However, Mr Matterella refused, and Mr Conte is now trying to persuade members of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement to back a new coalition with the opposition Democratic Party (PD), claiming such an administration could transform the country. Members of 5SM will hold a ballot on the party’s internet platform from 9 am to 6 pm today (9am to 4pm GMT) on Tuesday to decide whether the group should join forces with the PD, despite past differences.

With the outcome uncertain, Mr Conte posted a video on Facebook saying the proposed coalition would be good for Italy.

Mr Conte, a law professor who has no political affiliation but who is seen as close to 5SM, said: “I understand your doubts, but there is a unique opportunity to show we can really decisively reform this country and do extraordinary things.

“To do this we don’t need superheroes that my son likes so much. It’s sufficient to have people who are normal but responsible and determined, who love their country more than anything else.”

Shortly afterwards, 5SM leader Luigi Di Maio also took to Facebook, but he delivered a more subdued message and refused to advise his party members on how to vote.

Giuseppe Conte

Giuseppe Conte is trying to form a new administration (Image: GETTY)

Pedro Sanchez

The pressure is on Pedro Sanchez to form a new Government (Image: Reuters)

He said: “There is no right or wrong vote, there are your ideas and the sum of your ideas will guide the movement.

“Don’t be afraid. We have already won, the world is waiting for the democratic outcome of your vote to know Italy’s future.”

An SWG opinion poll of 1,500 people for La7 television channel, based on interviews carried out between August 29 and September 2, suggested 51 percent of 5-Star supporters backed a tie-up with the PD, while some 69 percent of PD voters endorsed the idea.

PD leader Nicola Zingaretti said: “We are working as you know with patience and in a serious fashion for the formation of a real government of change, because this is what Italy needs to rekindle the economy.”


Giuseppe Conte Matteo Salvini

Giuseppe Conte launched a stinging attack on Matteo Salvini as he offered his resignation (Image: GETTY)

Meanwhile, in Spain, acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez will today set out plans he hopes will convince left-wingers Unidas Podemos to support his last-ditch attempt to form a government and avoid a repeat election – which would be the fourth since 2015.

Mr Sanchez, whose Socialist Party finished first in an inconclusive national election in April, has been trying to rally support among parliamentarians to confirm him as PM, having previously taken over from then-People’s Party leader in June 2018.

In language similar to that used by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday, Mr Sanchez told El Pais on Sunday: “We don’t have to go to the polls.”

In July, Sanchez twice failed to be confirmed as premier by Parliament after talks to form a coalition government with Podemos collapsed.

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Luigi Di Maio

Luigi Di Maio was cagey after Mr Conte’s annoncement (Image: Reuters)

Pablo Iglesias

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias (Image: GETTY)

He now has until September 23 to get Parliament’s backing. If he fails, a new ballot will be called for November 10.

Mr Sanchez said there was an alternative to elections and a coalition, which was a government with a common progressive programme, “a different option than the one initially proposed by the Socialist Party and Unidas Podemos.”

He added: “On Tuesday we will present a programme to the people and, in particular, to Unidas Podemos in order to be able to find that necessary support so that the legislature can start.”

Last week, the Socialist Party rejected a reworked Podemos’ offer to form a coalition government saying, it could not trust such a partner in an administration.

Matteo Salvini

Matteo Salvini’s League pulled out of the coalition last month (Image: GETTY)

Even if the Socialists and Podemos reconcile their differences, they will need the cooperation of other parties to govern.

While Sanchez said there was plenty of time to still strike a deal, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on Saturday tweeted that they had not been approached in August and that Sanchez was not planning to meet them until September 10.

A Sigma Dos poll of 1,000 people based on interviews carried out between August 27 and 30 and published on Sunday by El Mundo daily showed that 55 percent of Spaniards want the two parties to hammer out a government deal.


Italy’s two legislative houses after the 2018 general election (Image: Wikipedia)


How Spain looked after the recent election (Image: Wikipedia)

Another survey by pollsters NC for La Razon, with the same sample size and based on interviews carried out between August 20 and 24, suggested 48.4 percent did not want new elections, while 35 percent said they did.

Mr Sanchez also reiterated his call for the conservative People’s Party and centre-right Ciudadanos to abstain and allow him to form a government, suggesting if they refused they would be punished by the electorate.

“If in the end we have to go to the polls on November 10, I am convinced that the progressives of this country are going to bet more strongly on the Socialist Party.”

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