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Conte-Salvini Show Intensifies as Former’s New Coalition Takes Charge

In an ultimate showdown of power surrounding the Italian politics, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte won a vote of confidence in the Senate for his new coalition government on Tuesday. Consequently, the victory that paved way for his new government, was also deemed as a great leveler for the former deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini.

Lawmakers voted 169 in favor of and 133 against Conte’s alliance of the Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party, along with a smaller left-wing group –a coalition that has a minimal majority in the upper house of the parliament.

“We must do everything we can to carry out the reforms that are important for the country, in the perspective of a new European legislature,” Conte said after the daylong debate that preceded the vote. “I am confident that the opposition will give its contribution, because what we build in this legislature will benefit all Italians.”

The spectacle in Italy turned over it head last month, when Salvini – head of far-right, anti-immigration League Party that had been in a coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement – asked the Italian senate to give him “full powers” in elections.

However, the Prime Minister opposed the stand and billed that Salvini was spearheading “political opportunism” in “following his own interests and those of his party.” The situation, thus, led to improbable coalition of Five Star, to whom Conte is close, and the Democratic Party, despite their mutual dislike.

Although Tuesday was the day of reckoning for the Parliament, the alliance is likely to be tested, when parties look for common grounds on issues such as large scale infrastructure projects and spending.

However, many in Europe still hailed the move as progressive. Calling that Salvini maintained a defiant stand against immigrants, bashed the European Union and leaned towards Russia, which was promoting the Eurosceptic norms. Nonetheless, he is now replaced by a new interior minister Luciana Lamorgese – a specialist in migration issues – who is likely to tone down those policies.

Responding to Tuesday’s result, Salvini called September 10 a “day of national betrayal” on his Facebook page. While on Twitter he wrote: “If they think they’ll stop us, they’re wrong: We are going forward as fast as ever and square after square, city after city, region after region, we will win,” he wrote, referring, in part, to coming regional elections.

There is no backing down in Italian politics at this stage. In fact, the only way forward is to forge of a coalition that even if it doesn’t have a common agenda, must have a common enemy.

Surely, the friends are foes and vice versa in Italy’s parliament now. Also, the extent of anticipation regarding the new government’s work in the parliament and how Salvini makes a comeback, will be interesting to find out. Who knows, another clown show could already be underway, and if it is, Italy has just bought itself the biggest political conundrum ever.

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