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Matteo Salvini’s drive to win outright power in Italy has run into trouble.
When the anti-immigration deputy premier broke with his uneasy coalition partner, the Five Star Movement, in a bid to force a snap election earlier this month, he looked irresistible: His League party was close to 40% in the polls, Five Star was in disarray, and the opposition Democratic Party was still reeling from its electoral drubbing last year.
But over the weekend signs emerged of a potentially paradoxical alliance to block the man who cites Donald Trump as his political inspiration — between the populist Five Star and the establishment Democrats.
The real drama starts tomorrow when Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte addresses the Senate with the future of the government in the balance. If his administration falls, President Sergio Mattarella must choose whether to hold a new election or ask the anti-Salvini forces to form a governing coalition.
The outcome of Italy’s latest drama has huge implications for Europe: whether its most dangerous pile of government debt will be managed by a hardliner bent on further tensions with Brussels or a weak coalition that will need all the help it can get.
Bite of the Apple | Trump offered a readout of his Friday-night dinner with Tim Cook, telling reporters the Apple CEO voiced concerns about chief competitor Samsung getting an edge because its products won’t be subject to tariffs when imported by the U.S. The majority of Apple’s products are made in China and face 10% levies before year’s end. The U.S. president said Cook made a “very compelling argument.”
Trump said the U.S. is “doing very well with China, and talking!” but suggested he wasn’t ready to sign a trade deal, hours after his top economic adviser laid out a potential timeline to resume talks. Support for free trade among Americans is on the rise, as Trump’s backing dips to its lowest level in more than a year in a new poll. Subscribe to our Terms of Trade newsletter to receive all the big developments in your inbox each weekday.
Youthful energy | Democrats’ prospects in the 2020 presidential election will turn on whether they can keep fanning the fires that drove young voters to the ballot box last year. A record jump in the 18-to-29 turnout helped the party win control of the House, and several signs point to a repeat of that trend. An uptick could prove particularly useful to Democrats in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire — states that were decided narrowly in 2016.
Democratic candidates are spending the final weeks of summer raising cash in the enclaves of the rich and famous. Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford said he’s exploring challenging Trump for the Republican nomination but that he’d still vote for the president over a Democrat. Elizabeth Warren is chipping away at Joe Biden’s strongest selling point — that he’s the candidate most likely to beat Trump.
Priming the pump | As Germany’s economy slips further toward a possible recession, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is starting to eye a fiscal stimulus package. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz floated the figure of 50 billion euros, days after Merkel said the country was heading for a difficult phase that might require action. But don’t expect an announcement until the most politically sensitive of all indicators comes under threat — jobs.
Lesson plan | Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller and other top aides spent months searching for a way to give states the power to block undocumented immigrant children from enrolling in public schools. The previously unreported aspect of the administration’s efforts to stem illegal border crossings was ultimately abandoned after its advocates were told repeatedly that any such effort would run afoul of a 1982 Supreme Court case.
Tricky decision | Brazil is considering designating Lebanese group Hezbollah a terrorist outfit, as President Jair Bolsonaro aligns himself with Trump on foreign policy. As Samy Adghirni exclusively reports, the idea is being mulled at the highest levels but doesn’t have across-the-board support: It could strain ties with Hezbollah ally Iran, which imports $2.5 billion of Brazilian products a year, and displease Brazil’s influential Lebanese community.
What to Watch This Week
French President Emmanuel Macron hosts Russian leader Vladimir Putin at his summer residence today, with Paris insisting it has no plans to mediate between Russia and other world powers. More moderate Hong Kong opposition leaders hope yesterday’s peaceful march of more than million people will help reset the protest movement after violent rallies threatened to sap public support. A tanker carrying Iranian oil has departed Gibraltar — likely headed for Greece — after being seized last month by U.K. forces on suspicion of hauling oil to Syria in violation of European sanctions. The U.S. attempted to block its release. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell kicks off the central bank’s annual Jackson Hole symposium Friday with a speech on the challenges facing monetary policy. Embattled Argentine President Mauricio Macri is grappling with the resignation of his economy minister and a double downgrade to the nation’s debt. Turkish authorities fired three elected mayors today and detained more than 400 people for alleged ties to a terrorist group, escalating tensions in the Kurdish-dominated southeast as the government looks to expand its military presence in Syria.
And finally ... As leaders prepare to gather for the Group of Seven summit at the French seaside town of Biarritz, Trump’s again raising the possibility of targeting one of his host country’s most prized exports: wine. The U.S. president told donors at a Hamptons fundraiser this month he could impose a 100% tariff to retaliate for a tax on multinational technology companies, Jennifer Jacobs and Jenny Leonard report. It's unclear how serious Trump was.
--With assistance from Kathleen Hunter and Raymond Colitt.
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