The Italian Senate is poised to decide on Tuesday on a date for a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, which could lead to the collapse of the populist government and trigger snap elections.

The plan comes after the Senate party group leaders failed to agree unanimously on a date on Monday. Most had favoured August 20.

The Senate must now return from its summer break and vote on a date for the no-confidence vote in a session starting at 6 pm (1600 GMT).

The move was prompted by deputy premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of the far-right League party, who says differences with their coalition partner, the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), have become too great and that snap elections are the best way forward.

The League and M5S have governed together for a little more than a year.

They have found themselves increasingly at odds, with the feuding coming to a boil last week when they voted against each other in parliament on a bill about an expensive high-speed project.

If Conte loses the confidence vote and the government formally comes to an end, the baton passes to President Sergio Mattarella, who must decide on a possible new election or whether to invite another party leader to attempt to form a government.

Salvini’s party, popular for its anti-immigration stance in Italy, came top in May’s European elections and is currently polling above 35 per cent.

That would likely allow him to form a new coalition with other right-wing factions.

His plans could be scuppered if the M5S forms a new coalition, with rumours circulating that it could be with the unpopular Social Democrats.