Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks during an event. File photo
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was set to hand in his resignation to the head of state on Tuesday after a key coalition ally pulled his party’s support over Conte’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The deepening political crisis is playing out against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 85,000 Italians — the second highest death toll in Europe after Britain and the sixth highest in the world, according to Reuters.
Conte is hoping to get President Sergio Mattarella’s support for forming a new coalition government that can steer the country as the Italia Viva party headed by former premier Matteo Renzi, quit in a row over the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis and economic recession.
A medical staff member takes samples from a driver to test for Covid-19 at a drive-through point in Rome. File/AP
Conte’s government was thrown into turmoil earlier this month when a junior coalition party headed by ex-Premier Matteo Renzi yanked its support. Conte won confidence votes in parliament last week, but fell short of an absolute majority, forcing him to take the gamble of resignation.
Efforts to lure centrist and independent senators into the coalition to fill the hole left by Renzi have met little success, leaving Conte no choice but to resign and open a formal government crisis that will give him more time to find a deal.
President Sergio Mattarella is expected to accept his resignation and hold rapid consultations with party leaders on Wednesday and Thursday to test the political waters.
If he thinks Conte might get the necessary backing to pull together a new administration, he will give him a few days to try to finalise a deal and draw up a new cabinet.
Up until now, the main coalition parties — the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and centre-left Democratic Party (PD) — have backed Conte's efforts to stay in power."Conte is the essential element and we need to broaden and relaunch the government's action," Debora Serracchiani, the deputy head of the PD, told state broadcaster RAI.
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