Italy parties meet as Salvini's election bid meets resistance

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Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, the leader of the country's largest nationalist party, demanded a snap election Thursday - a move that nearly certainly dooms the fragile governing coalition and could see Salvini's party move from a coalition partner to Italy's sole governing party.

League chief Matteo Salvini's call for snap Italian elections after he turned on his own coalition partner faced mounting resistance on Sunday, with both his former 5-Star ally and the centre-left opposition seeking to put the brakes on.

"Too many noes are bad for Italy, which needs to grow and, therefore, to have new elections soon", the League said.

The heads of political groups in Italy's Senate will meet on Monday to set a timetable for the no-confidence vote, the upper house press office said in a statement on Friday.

The two parties were fierce adversaries ahead of an inconclusive election in March 2018, before forming their unlikely alliance which has often ruffled the feathers of financial markets and the European Commission.

"Salvini came to tell me that the League intends to interrupt this experience in government and to call for a vote in order to capitalize on the consensus his party now enjoys", Conte told reporters at a nationally televised press conference.

Brothers of Italy would be the most likely choice, as its neo-fascist lineage would combine with the League to form a far right coalition.

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Tensions came to a head on Wednesday when 5-Star and the League voted against each other in parliament over the future of a project for a high-speed train link with France. But while Salvini wants immediate vote, Di Maio sought to postpone it until after parliament gave its final approval to a reform reducing the number of lawmakers, a vote that had been scheduled for early September.

For months he has complained that the 5-Stars, often citing environmental concerns, were opposing plans involving highways, tunnels and other infrastructure projects.

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. Preventing such ships from docking has been Salvini's hallmark as interior minister.

"We are all aware of the danger Salvini represents, but I doubt that a government fixing the public finances Salvini messed up would be the solution", he said.

Salvini wants to capitalize on soaring popularity in opinion polls and local elections. Its support hovers at 17% now.

"Those who waste time are hurting Italy to save their post", said Salvini, who complains the coalition with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement is unworkable after months of open bickering.

Most of all, he took issue with suggestions that the government was in a stalemate. "This government has always worked a lot and talked little", he added. "This government wasn't at the beach but working from morning until night", he said late on Thursday, referring to Salvini's seaside escapade last week.

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