Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte addresses the Senate as Deputy-Premier Matteo Salvini holds a rosary while sitting beside him, in Rome, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. The political showdown on Tuesday was triggered two weeks ago by hard-line Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, known across Europe for his tough stance against migrants, when he pulled the plug on the shaky populist coalition forged only 14 months earlier between his right-wing League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

The Latest: Italy's Salvini not afraid of an early vote

August 20, 2019 - 10:47 am

ROME (AP) — The Latest on Italy's government crisis (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's right-wing League party, says he triggered a government crisis in the middle of the summer because he doesn't fear the prospect of an early vote.

Salvini addressed senators on Tuesday after Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte announced he will tender his resignation, putting an end to the populist government forged only 14 months ago.

Salvini said he would "do again everything I did ... I'm a free man and I don't fear Italians' judgment." Salvini has been maneuvering to become Italy's next leader as support for his party grows on his anti-migrant stance.

Earlier, Conte had blasted Salvini for his "irresponsible" move that has abruptly interrupted the work of the government. He added that Salvini has acted only to pursue his "personal interests" and capitalize on his soaring popularity.

Conte also stressed that a sudden government crisis puts Italy at risk of "political and financial instability."

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4 p.m.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has announced his resignation, blaming his decision to end his 14-month-old populist government on his rebellious right-wing coalition partner.

He told senators on Tuesday he is handing in his resignation because his right-wing coalition partner, the League party led by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, has decided to yank its support for the populist government.

Conte said he will go later Tuesday to officially inform Italian President Sergio Mattarella of his decision. Mattarella, as head of state, could ask Conte to stay on and try to find an alternative majority in Parliament, or accept his resignation and see if some other leader can forge an alternative coalition.

Failing that, Mattarella could dissolve Parliament, setting the stage for a new general election as early as October.

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