Italy’s Government Passes Another Test, Keeping Far Right at Bay

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According to one survey released on Monday, the League would take 33.4 percent of the vote in the event of a national election, with its hard-right allies, the Brothers of Italy, at 7.2 percent. The Democrats polled at 22.1 percent and Five Star at 21 percent, down significantly from the March 2018 election in which it won 32.2 percent.

Mr. Conte became prime minister in 2018 as a consensus candidate with no party affiliation or government experience. But a year in the post appears to have honed his political skills, and he has deftly managed the crisis that began last month when Mr. Salvini pulled his support from the government to try to force elections.

Instead, Mr. Conte persuaded Five Star, to whom he is close, and the Democratic Party to overcome their mutual dislike to form a coalition. Five Star’s political leader, Luigi Di Maio, was named foreign minister in the new cabinet and will often cross paths with the incoming European Union commissioner for economic affairs, Paolo Gentiloni, who preceded Mr. Conte as prime minister.

Shortly after his nomination in Brussels on Tuesday, Mr. Gentiloni said he intended to focus on kick-starting growth in Europe and on “social and environmental sustainability” in the bloc. He is also expected to take up Rome’s call for a relaxation of European Union fiscal rules that critics say stifle expansion.

Mr. Conte said that Italy would also ask Europe to increase its investments in Africa and intensify cooperation there, a step toward slowing down the flows of immigrants who try to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life in Europe.

During his 14 months as interior minister, Mr. Salvini solidified his power base through a steady stream of proclamations that often singled out migrants as the biggest threat facing Italy. He was also instrumental in passing a tough security law that was particularly punitive toward nongovernmental rescue ships that operate in the Mediterranean.

Mr. Conte said that the law would remain, but that its sanctions could be relaxed somewhat.

The prime minister said that immigration could not be reduced to a “closed-door or open-door” policy, and that issues like illegal migration, human trafficking and the integration of migrants who are allowed to be in Italy needed to be addressed. He said Italy would also push for changes to the European Union rule that asylum seekers must apply for refugee status in the first member state they enter.



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