Italian PM Giuseppe Conte to resign on Tuesday, seek fresh mandate

Clay Curtis
January 26, 2021

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte submitted his resignation to President Mattarella after having held a morning cabinet meeting to inform his ministers.

Then Conte intends to head to the palace to meet with President Sergio Mattarella, who, as head of state, can accept the resignation, possibly asking the premier to then see if he can assemble a more solid coalition that can command a dependable majority in Parliament.

Mr Conte survived two confidence votes in Parliament last week but crucially lost his absolute majority in the Senate with the defection of a centrist ally, ex-Premier Matteo Renzi.

"The President of the Republic is reserving his decision and has asked the government to stay in office for the management of ordinary affairs", it said.

His resignation comes ahead of a key vote on judicial reforms later this week, which commentators suggest the government was on course to lose.

Italy was the first European country to face the full force of the pandemic early in 2020 and has the sixth-highest death toll worldwide.

Mattarella, the ultimate arbiter of Italian political crises, said he would start a round of discussions with party leaders on the way forward on Wednesday afternoon.

Conte is now expected to seek a fresh mandate from Mattarella - who as president acts as guarantor - to form a new, stronger government after losing his majority last week.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte gestures as he speaks ahead of a confidence vote at the upper house of parliament after former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pulled his party out of government, in Rome, Italy, January 19, 2021.

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But other lawmakers will be needed to form a viable new government - and "it is now unclear whether Conte can succeed in such an effort", Piccoli noted.

In particular, Renzi opposes Mr Conte's plans for splashing out €209 billion in overall European Union recovery funds - a hefty portion of a €750 billion European Union rescue fund - for the COVID crisis.

Since the 2018 elections he has been at the helm of two governments of different political shades.

The current coalition of the 5-Star Movement, Democratic Party and smaller Leu party are all hoping for a third Conte government.

Mr Salvini said he had called a meeting of centre-right leaders, including far-right leader Giorgia Meloni and Mr Berlusconi's fold to bolster the Opposition's push for elections.

The first was a fractious and unashamedly populist coalition between M5S and Salvini's League, which ended when the latter pulled out in August 2019.

"The Italians need hospitals, open and safe schools, and a year of tax peace to give back breath and hope to families and businesses", Mr Salvini said.

Opinion polls show that Conte is Italy's most popular leader, with an approval rating of 56 per cent, nearly 20 percentage points above the next closest politician, according to a poll published by Corriere della Sera daily on Saturday.

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