The League on Friday filed a no-confidence motion to put an end to the government it formed with the anti-establishment M5S, with the aim of triggering new elections as soon as October and making Salvini Italy’s new leader.
“The League and M5S have been diverging in their vision for too long, on matters that are fundamental for the country,” the far-right party said in a statement.
“This government’s only option is to let Italians have their say.”
But the plan has been slammed by other parties, whose support the League would need in parliament for the vote to succeed.
Former Democratic Party (PD) leader Matteo Renzi, who still wields strong influence over his centre-left party, said on Sunday going back to the polls just when the government is due to start preparations for the 2020 budget would be “crazy”.
M5S leader Luigi Di Maio also said on Sunday that triggering a government crisis now was “foolish and dangerous”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte demanded that Salvini “justify” his decision to provoke a political crisis.
Conte, who had held separate talks with Salvini and President Sergio Mattarella as the crisis deepened, said in a statement that the interior minister does not summon parliament and is not able to dictate the steps of the political crisis.
Only Mattarella has the power to dissolve parliament and he may be unwilling to do so ahead of preparatory work in September for the 2020 budget, which must be presented to parliament and the European Commission the following month.
He could try instead to form a new government from the existing legislature before resorting to an election.
Both houses of parliament are currently on recess for the holidays and are not due back until September.
Local media reported that the Senate could convene as early as August 20 to declare the end of the government, with the dissolution of parliament possible in the following days.
According to Italy’s constitution, new elections would then have to be held within 70 days.