The populist coalition governing Italy must put internal differences to one side, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has warned. If it doesn't, the country may face early elections.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday said he would step down from his post unless the ruling 5-Star Movement and League parties started to take responsibility for running the country.
"I am asking both these political forces to make a choice and tell me if they still want to honor the government's obligations," he told a news conference. If not, "I will simply end my mandate."
Conte demanded a speedy response and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini replied: "We want to carry on, no time to waste."
A split in the coalition
The populist 5-Star Movement and the League have been arguing for months over a range of issues, ranging from migration policy to infrastructure projects.
The split intensified after the League won 34% of the vote in the European parliamentary elections last month, pulling ahead of the 5-Star movement and adding to speculation that Salvini and the League could ditch coalition partners.
If Italy's government were to collapse, there has been speculation that parliament could be dissolved, resulting in snap elections.
However, any new government would need to deal with mounting concern from the EU over Italy's public finances and rising debt.
Italy could face disciplinary procedures this week for breaking EU budget rules. Salvini has said these rules are outdated and harmful to the country's economy. Conte has said Italy should respect EU budget rules until such time as they are changed.
wmr/rt (dpa, Reuters)