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Rome

Conte to quit, slams Salvini as 'opportunist'

'Grave lack of institutional culture' says PM

Conte to quit, slams Salvini as 'opportunist'

Rome, August 20 - League leader Matteo Salvini was "irresponsible and opportunist" and showed a "grave lack of constitutional culture" in triggering a government crisis solely to cash in on surging poll numbers, Premier Giuseppe Conte said Tuesday, saying the government's action stops here" and saying he would go to President Sergio Mattarella to tender his resignation as premier. The timing of the crisis, he went on, showed "political opportunism" and Salvini made a "gesture of institutional imprudence". The League's "drumming" about new elections was "offensive for the activity of the government," he added. He said Salvini had sought "a pretext for the crisis" in the 5-Star Movement's opposition to a French rail link after the League scored highly in the recent European elections. He said Salvini was "concerning" in his conception of managing power by "rabble-rousing" people in the streets. Conte also said Italy's Constitution precluded "authoritarian methods", referring to Salvini's controversial call for the people to grant him "full powers" in a snap vote. In Europe, he said, Salvini's "contrarian" views had sparked "confusion". He said Salvini did not have a "sense of the rules" and said he should have addressed parliament on a case of the League allegedly seeking Russian funding. Conte also criticised Salvini for brandishing rosaries and other religious symbols while announcing policy moves such as a crackdown on migrants. "Your use of religious symbols is unconscionable", he said. Conte said "the ongoing (government) crisis compromises the action of this government, which stops here". He said he would hand in his resignation to Mattarella, who would "guide the country in a delicate passage". In other remarks, Conte said the government crisis makes Italy weak in negotiations with the EU over new commissioners and other issues. He also said an emergency management of the budget is "very likely" given the timing of the crisis. Conte added that a new government will find it hard to avert a 23-billion-euro VAT hike. It would also be subject to leaps in the bond spread, he said. Conte said "every party is called to work a mediation between partial interests and general ones, when you concentrate only on partial interests you not only betray the nobility of politics but you compromise the national interest," in another attack on Salvini. Salvini showed a "grave lack of constitutional culture" in triggering the government crisis, Conte said. The timing of the crisis, he went on, showed "political opportunism" and Salvini made a "gesture of institutional imprudence". The League's "drumming" about new elections was "offensive for the activity of the government," he added. He said Salvini had sought "a pretext for the crisis" in the 5-Star Movement's longstanding opposition to a French rail link after the League scored highly in the recent European elections. He said Salvini was "concerning" in his conception of managing power by "rabble-rousing" people in the streets.

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