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Italy's League calls for new elections, pushing coalition government into crisis

Italy's coalition government was thrown into crisis Aug. 8 as Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and his League party called for new elections amid persistent policy differences with coalition partner Five Star Movement.

Salvini, who is also interior minister, met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and urged him to verify in parliament that the coalition no longer has a ruling majority, as evidenced by a recent Senate vote on a rail-link project opposed by the Five Star Movement but supported by the League.

The rail project vote was the "last, clear, irreparable certification" of differences within the coalition, the League said in a statement reported by Italian news wire Ansa.

"As far as we are concerned, the only alternative to this government is giving the word back to the Italian people with new elections," the League said.

Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio said his party was prepared to hold new elections, but he called for delaying the ballot until parliament approves a measure lowering the number of lawmakers, The Associated Press reported.

Apart from the rail-link project, the League cited differences with its coalition partner over fiscal and economic policies and relations with Europe, according to the reports.

Earlier, Salvini asked Conte to replace Finance Minister Giovanni Tria, among other cabinet members, by Aug. 12.