Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigns in the political crisis

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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will hold a press conference in Rome on July 7, 2020.

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Italy faces more political turmoil after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte stepped down on Tuesday, at a time the country is facing a serious health and economic crisis.

Italy has been mired in political uncertainty for the past three weeks after a small party, Italia Viva, decided to withdraw from the Conte-led coalition government. The break came after a dispute over EU pandemic recovery funds and their payouts that plunged the nation into instability.

Earlier on Tuesday, Conte, who has no political affiliation, informed his ministers that he was stepping down. He then submitted his official resignation to President Sergio Mattarella. The President has reportedly asked Conte to continue to act as caretaker while consultations are taking place on the formation of a new government.

However, the resignation is widely viewed as an attempt to avoid a parliamentary defeat in a Senate vote later this week.

The bottom line is that Italy continues to be ruled by a leader who is unsuitable for the tough job ahead.

Wolfgango Piccoli

Co-President Teneo

Conte narrowly weathered a vote of confidence last week, but his government was stripped of a functioning majority with Italia Viva leaving, making it difficult to pass important laws for the rest of his mandate.

“After Conte and his government failed in their desperate efforts to expand their majority, they should be defeated in a new vote in the Senate, currently scheduled for January 27,” said Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of the Consulting firm Teneo, in a note.

He said Conte’s resignation was an attempt “to ensure his own political survival”.

Mattarella must now decide whether to give Conte the opportunity to negotiate with lawmakers again and look for a majority that will allow him to rule.

“Conte’s calculation is that by taking an early step and avoiding a humiliating Senate defeat later this week, he would increase his chances of winning a mandate from Mattarella to form a new government,” Piccoli said. However, he added, “It is currently unclear whether Conte can succeed in such an effort.”

If Italian lawmakers fail to reach an agreement on a new coalition government with or without Conte as prime minister, voters will have to vote sooner rather than later.

Italy, the first EU country to be severely affected by the pandemic, has recorded more than 2 million Covid infections and over 85,000 deaths, according to John Hopkins University.