Former coalition partner M5S and opposition could unite to scupper far-right leader’s plans

This time last week the Italian far-right leader, Matteo Salvini, seemed invincible. His League party had managed to push the latest version of its draconian anti-immigration bill through parliament after winning a vote of no-confidence. The party then claimed victory after its coalition partner, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), failed to block an Alpine rail link with France.

Italians have been squabbling over the TAV rail project for 30 years, but for Salvini the clash was the ideal catalyst for liberating his party from the tempestuous coalition. Seeking to capitalise on the League flourishing popularity, he called for snap elections and immediately declared himself a candidate for prime minister, urging supporters in the coastal town of Pescara to give the League “the strength to take this country in hand and save it”.

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