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Italy's Prime Minister attacks Salvini and says he'll resign

Lisa Micheal 3 Aug 20

In an hour-long speech, Conte said Salvini's demand for fresh elections -- 18 months after the last ones were held -- was "irresponsible" and accused him of putting the national interest at risk in order to advance his own personal interests.
"With a political crisis in mid-August, elections will probably be held in autumn and then this would mean a provisional government and will make us weak with our EU partners," Conte said.
Conte also slammed Salvini for what he described as a lack of statesmanship, and said his decision could bring about institutional and financial uncertainty.
"Asking citizens to vote every year is irresponsible," Conte added.
Conte said he would listen to the rest of Tuesday's Senate debate and then submit his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella, potentially setting Italy off on a path towards the new elections Salvini has called for.
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Conte, a law professor with no previous political experience, became prime minister in June 2018 after the right-wing League and anti-establishment Five Star Movement reached a coalition agreement.
The two populist, euroskeptic parties secured the most votes in the March 2018 election, but the coalition fell apart this month over disagreements on key policies.
Salvini, who is the leader of the far-right League party, took the microphone immediately after Conte finished his speech.
He said he would "do what I did all over again," adding, "I am a free man. I am not afraid of the judgment of Italians."
Salvini then said he wanted to offer Italians a "future of growth and prosperity."
Salvini also defended his policies on Europe and immigration, which caused the coalition to fall apart. He said: "are we or are we not a sovereign country, free to protect its borders, its beaches!"
At one point during his speech, Salvini took out a rosary and asked the Virgin Mary for protection for Italians. Conte had previously criticized Salvini's habit of showing the rosary during public speeches and rallies given his anti-immigrant policies.