The Latest: Italy’s populist govt wins 1st confidence vote
ROME (AP) — The Latest on Italian politics (all times local):
The alliance of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League has won a confidence vote in Italy’s upper chamber of Parliament, a crucial step in launching western Europe’s first populist government.
The alliance received 171 votes in favor, 116 against and 25 abstentions, well beyond the minimum votes needed to pass the Italian Senate. Lawmakers are set to cast confidence votes Wednesday in the lower Chamber of Deputies, where the two parties also have a majority.
In his first policy address Tuesday, Premier Giuseppe Conte denounced Europe’s “failed” immigration policy and warned Italy would renegotiate its fiscal regulations. But he also stressed that Italy had no plans to leave the euro.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has assured Parliament that leaving the common European euro currency is “not up for discussion” and never was, as he seeks to reassure Italy’s European partners about his populist 5-Star-League coalition government.
But Conte also says Italy does want to renegotiate fiscal policy with the European Union.
Conte was speaking Tuesday in his first policy foray, outlining his government agenda before the Senate ahead of a confidence vote later in the day.
Replying to senators who pressed him on the government’s EU agenda, Conte said: “Leaving the euro was never up for discussion. It is not up for discussion.”
The euro is shared by 19 EU nations.
Italy’s opposition Democratic Party says the country’s new populist 5-Star-League coalition government may have some good intentions but has no specific ways to finance them or firm proposals for giving young Italians a better future.
Democratic leader Maurizio Martina called the speech Tuesday by new Premier Giuseppe Conte generic “propaganda.”
Democratic Sen. Franco Mirabelli said it was perfectly good idea to call for decent salaries and speeding up public works contracts. “But the point is: How do you do it? With what resources?”
Mirabelli also harshly criticized Conte for what he said was not paying enough attention to Italy’s fight against the mafia, noting that the country’s new interior minister was in Sicily on Sunday “and didn’t say a word” about organized crime.
The Democrats plan to vote against the new government in confidence votes later Tuesday and Wednesday. The 5-Stars and League have slight parliamentary majorities.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has declared the Europe Union’s immigration policy a “failure” and demanded it be renegotiated as he outlined the policy agenda of the populist 5-Star Movement and League’s “government of change.”
In his first policy address, Conte insisted that Italy isn’t racist and fully accepts its responsibilities to welcome and integrate legitimate refugees. But he said the EU must take on a greater burden, including in its negotiations with migrants’ home countries and in sending back those who don’t qualify for asylum.
Conte was interrupted nearly three-dozen times during his hour-plus-long speech before Parliament’s upper Senate chamber before a confidence vote later Tuesday. He will deliver a similar address to the lower Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday.
Between them, the 5-Stars and League have a slight parliamentary majority.
Italy’s populist government will present its agenda to Parliament, where the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and right-wing League have slim majorities that are expected to give Premier Giuseppe Conte the necessary votes of confidence to start governing.
In his first policy statement, Conte addresses the upper Senate chamber on Tuesday and the lower Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday, capping an extraordinary week that saw the installation of Western Europe’s first populist government after three months of political and financial turmoil.
Conte’s address is expected to draw heavily from the 5-Star-League’s 57-page government agenda, which calls for a two-tiered flat tax, a basic income for poor Italians and pension reform — a heavy spending platform that economists and EU policymakers worry will increase the country’s debt burden, already Europe’s heaviest after Greece.