Italy’s premier to resign due to lack of support for gov’t coalition

Rome, Jan 25 (efe-epa).- Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will present his resignation on Tuesday due to the lack of support for his governing coalition in Parliament after the crisis sparked by politico Matteo Renzi, who withdrew his tiny Italia Viva party from the coalition.

Conte will announce his decision to resign at a Council of Ministers meeting called for 9 am and after meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at Quirinale Palace, according to government sources.

His aim will be to secure a new mandate from the head of state to form a government, Italy’s third in the past two-and-a-half years, given the current lack of support for the current administration in the Chamber of Deputies, the Italian Parliament’s lower house, and the Senate after the exit from the coalition of Renzi’s group.

Conte’s coalition – made up of the anti-system Five-Star Movement, the center-left Democratic Party and the leftist Free and Equal party – lost Renzi’s key support on Jan. 13 over the Italia Viva leader’s disagreement with the premier’s Recovery Plan to get Italy back on its feet after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last Monday, Conte received the support of an absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies and obtained a simple majority in the Senate thanks to the support of a heterogeneous group of deputies and senators from the Mixed Group.

The favorable result was also made possible by the abstention of Renzi’s 29 deputies and 18 senators.

Since then, however, Conte has tried to cement together the elements within the Mixed Group into a “fourth leg” for his coalition with an eye toward recovering his absolute majority in the two chambers, but reportedly he has now realized that it will not be possible under the current circumstances.

The government this week faces a vote in Parliament that, for the first time, could put it into the minority over the 2020 management of Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede, one of the most controversial members of the Five-Star Movement and the government.

Very probably, Bonafede’s management report will not convince the majority of lawmakers, above all due to his much criticized reform of the criminal code and the release from prison of Mafia members to lessen the risk to those prisoners at the start of the pandemic.

Given this situation, in acknowledgment of his weak position in Parliament, the reports are that Conte has definitively decided to resign.

His objective now is to obtain another mandate from Mattarella to form another government with the support of centrist lawmakers, unruly legislators from Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia or even by negotiating Renzi’s return to the fold with the aim of governing until 2023.

The Five-Star Movement, the largest party in Parliament after the 2018 election, and the Democratic Party are firm supporters of Conte in the face of voices clamoring for a change at the helm of the government.

A more far-fetched option would be to move up the national election, bearing in mind the pandemic and the fact that the vote would have to be held before July, when the so-called “white period” begins, the period preceding the change in Italy’s largely ceremonial presidency and during which Parliament may not be dissolved.

According to Italy’s constitution, Parliament may not be dissolved in the last six months of a sitting head of state’s mandate, and since Mattarella’s term ends in January 2022, this means that after July 2021 anyone wanting to topple the Conte government could trigger a new political crisis without the risk of elections.

The loudest chorus of “no” votes against Conte comes from the ultrarightist opposition – including Matteo Salvini’s League and Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy – who are demanding new elections, well aware that all voter surveys indicate that they would do exceptionally well in an early balloting, primarily because of general popular dissatisfaction with the Conte government’s handling of the pandemic, which has taken some 82,000 lives.

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