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Salvini begins Italian beach tour as political crisis looms

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Salvini begins Italian beach tour as political crisis looms
Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini at a beach party on Saturday. Photo: Twitter/Dragrar32
11:25 CEST+02:00
Matteo Salvini's summer 'Beach Tour', seen as a chance to woo voters with a view to possibly forcing early elections, got off to a bad start this week.

The Italian Interior Minister and head of the far-right League party had been due to launch his five-tour from Sabaudia and Anzio, beaches on the Lazio coastline south of Rome, but cancelled both appearances at the last minute.

The “beach tour”, in which Salvini was set to chat to voters in his swimming trunks, was seen by analysts as an attempt to win votes from supporters of his party's government coalition partner, the populist Five Star Movement (M5S).

Amid repeated threats by Salvini to call an early election if his policy demands are not met by ministers, Huffington Post Italia described the summer tour as a "self-proclaimed electoral campaign, as if to bring forward the general election".

"After all, he decides when the music stops - both in the DJ booth and the government," Huffington Post Italia wrote.

Five Star did particularly well in the south at last year's election, but has since seen its polling numbers plunge over a series of broken promises.

On Wednesday M5S suffered an embarrassing defeat at a parliamentary vote over the TAV high-speed train link between Italy and France, which it had pledged to scrap.

TAV is just one of the major issues dividing the two ruling parties, which were always set to be uneasy coalition partners.

READ ALSO: An early general election in Italy is likely, analysts say

With observers wondering if this would be the final straw for a bickering coalition, Salvini appeared to have decided he had no choice but to swap Mojitos and beach selfies for talks over the government's future.

Asked Monday whether Italy was heading to a snap election, he replied:"We'll see soon, possibly even before September."

He was still scheduled to hold a party rally in Sabaudia later on Wednesday, with other beach stops to follow in the coming days.

"I'm sorry he's not coming, I would have a liked a photograph with him," said 12-year old Perla Garzia, who was at the beach in Anzio with her grandmother, a Salvini fan.

Not so grandfather Gianfranco Cervasi, 72, who was glad the deputy prime minister was not coming, slamming him and his entourage as "dangerous people".

Salvini has spent so much time at the resort of Milano Marittima  that it has been nicknamed "Viminale Beach" after the name of the interior ministry.

And his seaside antics unfailingly generate headlines.

He landed himself in hot water last week by arranging for his 15-year-old son Federico to ride a police jet ski.

Images taken by a journalist went viral, sparking complaints he had compromised police integrity.

On Saturday he was filmed at Milano Marittima, bare-chested, cocktail in hand, at a DJ stand with the national anthem playing and dancers in low-cut swimming costumes.

Senior members of the armed forces swiftly condemned the spectacle.

Opposition politicians quickly noted the stark contrast between Salvini and Aldo Moro, two-time former prime minister, famously photographed on the beach in a suit and tie.

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