Conte appeals to Senate for support amid government crisis

Rome, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- The Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, on Tuesday was appealing to the Senate to declare its support for his coalition government, which was thrown into crisis last week by the sudden departure of Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva party.

On Monday, Conte survived a motion of no confidence in the Lower House, which voted in favor of the government continuing its mandate with an absolute majority of 321 votes for and 259 against, with 27 abstentions.

But he does not enjoy the same level of support in the Senate, which he was addressing on Tuesday in a bid to convince pro-European deputies to vote in favor and avoid a government collapse in the midst of a global pandemic.

“This today is a fundamental passage in the institutional life of our country,” Conte said. “The numbers are important, but even more important is the quality of the political project,”

“The country has united with the pandemic, with its suffering,” he said. “The government’s sense of unity has increased. The reasons to be together have increased.”

As he did in his speech to parliament on Monday, Conte listed his government’s achievements before the political crisis triggered by Renzi’s sudden withdrawal from the coalition — which Conte called “senseless” and “irresponsible” — over disagreements about the country’s pandemic response and recovery plan.

The prime minister said that in order to continue, the government needs support “from willing parliamentary forces, that are aware of the difficulties we are going through and the delicate nature of the tasks, we need women and men capable of fleeing from selfishness and chasing away the temptation to look at personal gain.”

He called for an alliance that would support a pro-European vision and cautioned against siding with “nationalist tendencies and sovereignist aspirations”, in a pointed reference to Euro-sceptic right-wing opposition parties, such as the Northern League or Brothers of Italy.

Conte reiterated the appeal he made on Monday: “To all those who have the destiny of Italy in their hearts, I ask you today: Help us. Help us to leave again as soon as possible. Help us to heal as soon as possible the wound that the current crisis has produced in the pact of trust established with citizens”.

“Here, with today’s vote, I trust that the institutions can also give us back our confidence to leave behind as soon as possible the serious act of irresponsibility that has plunged us into this situation of uncertainty,” he added.

The Italian media reports that, for the moment, Conte has the support of 152 senators, which could rise to 158 with the support of life-long senators and some others, but which would still fall short of an absolute majority.

After the debate, Conte will speak again in the afternoon session, with the vote taking place around 9 pm. EFE-EPA


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