Salvini Rules Out a Reshuffle After Tria Resignation Report

(Bloomberg) -- Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini dismissed media reports of a possible government reshuffle in which Finance Minister Giovanni Tria would resign in early January following a long tussle over the country’s budget.

The idea of a cabinet revamp is “surreal and totally false,” Salvini, who leads the antimigration League, said in a statement sent by his office. “You don’t change a winning team, we’re the government with the highest voter confidence in Europe.”

Newspapers including La Stampa, which cited unnamed officials in Premier Giuseppe Conte’s office, reported earlier Saturday that Tria might step down after the spending plans have been approved by parliament, in the latest media reports about Tria’s possible departure.

Tria has confided to lawmaker friends that he couldn’t bear another budget fight, La Stampa said. Tria has repeatedly denied he has considered resigning.

The finance minister fought for weeks to persuade Salvini and fellow-deputy premier Luigi Di Maio of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement to negotiate with the European Commission, and to delay and dilute their election promises. The two leaders agreed to lower a 2019 deficit target to 2.04 percent from an initial 2.4 percent, which Brussels had rejected as breaching EU rules.

Salvini Rules Out a Reshuffle After Tria Resignation Report

The coalition government, which was sworn in on June 1, still commands strong backing in opinion surveys although support for the League dropped 3 percentage points to 32.9 percent over the last month, while backing for Five Star has fallen to 27 percent, according to an Ispos poll published by daily Corriere della Sera on Thursday.

The government is rushing to meet a Monday deadline for approval of the budget by parliament. The lower house is due to hold a confidence vote Saturday evening, a tactic often used in Italy to push legislation through, before a final vote on the budget expected Sunday morning.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.