Stop fighting or Ill quit, Italy PM warns leaders

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, 3 June 2019Image copyright

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Mr Conte advised governing ministers to avoid “playing to the gallery” on social media

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has warned the country’s two ruling populist parties that he will resign if they do not stop fighting.

Mr Conte said the parties must “honour the government’s obligations” or he would “simply end my mandate”.

The fractious year-old coalition of the League and the Five Star Movement are at loggerheads on a range of issues.

Italy faces tough decisions on spending and Mr Conte is seeking a clear mandate to continue debt talks with the EU.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, the prime minister urged a “loyal collaboration” from governing ministers and said he wanted “a clear, unequivocal and speedy response”.

On Tuesday, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the right-wing League party, said he had no intention of bringing down the government.

He said it was time to push through much-needed reforms – such as greater autonomy for the regions – and that he was ready to discuss such measures with his coalition partners.

The Five Star Movement’s Luigi Di Maio also said he wanted the coalition to survive and that he was ready to “sit down around a table and start working”.

“We’re ready to discuss the League’s proposals for a flat-tax measure and more powers to local governments, we’ve always said yes to these measures – provided they are done in a certain way,” Mr Di Maio told Italian daily Corriere della Sera (in Italian).

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Media captionItalian Deputy Prime Minister Salvini: “Europe is changing”

Last week, Mr Salvini said he expected Brussels to impose a hefty fine on the country over its rising debt levels and made a number of controversial comments about the issue in interviews and on social media.

“At a time when youth unemployment is reaching 50% in some regions, someone in Brussels is asking us, under past rules, for a fine of €3bn (£2.7bn),” he told radio station RTL.

“All my energy will go into changing these rules from the past,” he said, adding: “We will see if this little letter from Brussels in which they sanction us for debt accumulated in the past arrives.”

But Mr Conte later warned against posting “witticisms” on social media or using the press to send “ambiguous signals” in the pursuit of resolving political issues.

“We have been tasked with designing the future of the country, which is different from playing to the gallery and collecting ‘likes’ on social media,” he said.

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