News ID: 256293
Published: 0257 GMT July 24, 2019

Italy's Salvini says he sees 'good signs' of government moving forward

Italy's Salvini says he sees 'good signs' of government moving forward
Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini addresses a news conference at Viminale Palace, Rome, Italy, on July 15, 2019.

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said on Wednesday he saw “good signs” that Italy’s government was moving forward, his clearest statement yet that he is not planning on quitting the coalition and triggering an early election.

Salvini, of the far-right League, threatened last week to ditch his cabinet partner the 5-Star Movement stopped opposing measures close to his party’s heart, including infrastructure projects and a push for greater regional autonomy, Reuters reported.

“I have always said that if the government does things, the government will go ahead. Between yesterday and today there have been good signs of things being unblocked,” said Salvini.

The League leader said the government on Wednesday had agreed to unlock €50 billion ($55.75 billion) of funds to spend on an array of programs, including for building roads, schools, hospitals and railways.

“It’s been a beautiful, productive morning,” Salvini said on a Facebook Live, sounding more upbeat than he has in many days.

The easing of tension fed through to the financial markets that often fret about Italy’s huge national debt levels, with 10-year government bond yields falling to a 33-month low.

Adding to Salvini’s good mood was the fact Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had announced on Tuesday that work on a rail link with France, known as the TAV, should proceed since halting the project would cost Italy more than completing it.

The TAV has been a longstanding bone of contention between the League and 5-Star, with Salvini’s party demanding that the costly Alpine rail line be completed while 5-Star called on it to be scrapped.

“We convinced the prime minister last night that we need fast, safe and less polluting trains ... luckily the ‘no’ parties in Italy are getting fewer,” said Salvini, painting the TAV decision as a clear-cut victory for the League.

Salvini’s comments make a government collapse look highly unlikely, but some clouds still hover over both the coalition and the League leader.

The party’s drive to hand greater autonomy to the regions remains blocked, with Conte struggling to find a formula that will be acceptable both to the League and 5-Star, which is worried that the reform could hurt its southern strongholds.

Salvini himself is still under pressure over allegations that his party sought funds via an illicit oil deal with Russia. He has dismissed the accusations, but has so far dodged demands that he address parliament over the scandal.

“If I am interested in espionage, I will watch a James Bond film. I promise you that...we have not asked, received or been given money from anyone, anywhere in the world,” Salvini said.


Resource: Reuters
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