Italy PM set to quit and seek new govt as pandemic rages

Cheryl Sanders
January 26, 2021

Mr Conte's office said the Prime Minister would inform his Cabinet at a meeting Tuesday morning (local time) of his "will to go to the Quirinale (presidential palace) to hand in his resignation".

If no-one can forge a more viable, dependable coalition, Mr Mattarella has the option of dissolving Parliament, setting the stage for an election two years early.

Conte has called a cabinet meeting for 9:00am (0800 GMT), when he "will inform the ministers of his desire... to resign", his office said late Monday.

Mattarella will open discussions with party leaders on Wednesday afternoon which are likely to lead into Thursday - leaving a vacuum at the top of the eurozone's third largest economy at a crucial time.

Parts of the country remain under partial lockdown, the vaccination programme has slowed and a deadline is looming to agree plans to spend billions of euros in European Union recovery funds.

He will likely then seek to widen support beyond his coalition, now comprising mainly of the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

The prime minister survived a confidence vote in parliament last week but emerged weakened, after losing the support of a small centrist party led by Matteo Renzi, one of his predecessors as prime minister.

The Democrats' leader, Nicola Zingaretti, rooted in a tweet for a new Conte government that would be "clearly pro-Europe and backed by a wide parliamentary base that would guarantee credibility and stability to face the great challenges that Italy has before it".

For weeks, Renzi had criticised Conte for his leadership style and his handling of the pandemic.

Conte had hoped to gather sufficient support among lawmakers from centrist parties to replace Renzi's MPs, but the numbers failed to materialize, and the vote this week was set to bring down the government.

He added that if he fails, the M5S and PD could "ditch Conte and look for another candidate" to head a new coalition government.

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

But Salvini quit in August 2019 in a failed bid to trigger new elections.

After consultations with leaders of both Government and Opposition parties, the President could also decide to tap someone else deemed to have better chances of forming a more solid government.

Italian media reports on Monday evening suggested this was the outcome the prime minister was hoping for, with Conte relying on a centre-right bloc led by another former PM, Silvio Berlusconi.

Other reports by iNewsToday