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Italy's Senate delays debate on no-confidence challenge against government

The Italian Senate voted to postpone a debate on a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his coalition government, a setback for the far-right League party, which has called for snap elections.

Senators set the debate on the no-confidence motion filed by the League for Aug. 20, allowing Conte to address the Senate on the political crisis facing his government, according to reports from newswires.

It was unclear whether a no-confidence vote would immediately follow the debate, The Associated Press noted.

The League called for fresh elections last week due to policy disagreements with coalition partner Five Star Movement. League leader and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini wanted to hold the no-confidence debate and vote as early as Aug. 14 and have new elections in October.

Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio had said Parliament must first approve a measure lowering the number of lawmakers before new elections take place.

Salvini supported that proposal during the Aug. 13 Senate session but said elections should be held "immediately" after downsizing Parliament, Agence France-Presse reported.

Rating agency DBRS earlier warned that a center-right government led by the League following the snap elections would allow Italy's fiscal challenges to persist.