Italian Senate deliberates removal of parliamentary immunity for Deputy PM Salvini

Italian Senate deliberates removal of parliamentary immunity for Deputy PM Salvini

A committee in Italy’s upper house will today vote on whether to strip Deputy PM Matteo Salvini of his immunity

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Photo: Reuters

A committee in Italy’s upper house will today vote on whether to strip Deputy PM Matteo Salvini of his immunity from criminal prosecution amid a kidnapping investigation.

The committee is controlled by the Five Star Movement, a populist party that rules in a coalition with Mr Salvini’s right-wing Northern League. Five Star was founded on attacking establishment politicians and calling for an end to ministerial immunities. Abandoning these values to protect Mr Salvini will anger core supporters.

However, Mr Salvini could withdraw his party’s support for the government should his immunity be lifted. This would create a political crisis and possibly force fresh elections from which his party may emerge more powerful.

Five Star has asked its members to vote in an online poll on Monday to decide whether Salvini’s immunity should be lifted. At the time of writing, the outcome was still unknown.

Ultimately, Salvini is unlikely to be prosecuted. Even if today’s vote does recommend lifting the deputy PM’s immunity, the full Senate will have to confirm this next month. Instead, this episode highlights the fragility of Italy’s its populist government, suggesting another election is likely before the 2023 deadline.

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