SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

UPDATE: Italian PM Conte to resign in hope of forming new government

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation on Tuesday, in what media reports said was an attempt to build a new government after weeks of political turmoil.

UPDATE: Italian PM Conte to resign in hope of forming new government
Is Giuseppe Conte about to form his third government since taking office in 2018? Photo: AFP
Conte gathered his cabinet on Tuesday morning to announce he would be handing his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella, after a political crisis left his coalition government severely weakened.
 
Conte will reportedly visit Mattarella at noon, and is expected to seek a mandate to form a new government.
 
If successful, this would be Conte’s third administration since 2018. However, he  may not have the political support needed, and the outcome of the political crisis as yet remains uncertain.
 
Mattarella will then open discussions with party leaders on a way forward over the coming days – leaving a vacuum at the top of government during the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis.
 
The ruling coalition has been struggling since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his small Italia Viva party on January 13th.
 
Conte survived a parliamentary vote of confidence last week but failed to secure a majority in the Senate, the upper house, leaving his government severely weakened.
 
His resignation comes ahead of a key vote on judicial reforms later this week, which commentators suggest the government was on course to lose.
 
“Conte’s calculation is that by moving early, and thereby avoiding a humiliating defeat in the Senate later this week, he would increase his chances of securing a mandate from Mattarella to form a new government,” noted Wolfango Piccoli of the Teneo consultancy.
 
He will likely then seek to widen support beyond his coalition, currently comprising mainly of the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
 
“However, it is currently unclear whether Conte can succeed in such an effort,” Piccoli said.
 
He added that if he fails, the M5S and PD could “ditch Conte and look for another candidate” to head a new coalition government.
 
 
The ruling parties are keen to avoid snap elections, which opinion polls suggest would lead to victory for the centre-right coalition comprising Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s far-right League party.
 
Shortly before the resignation announcement, key figures in both M5S and the PD offered their support to a new Conte government.
 
“We remain at Conte’s side,” said a statement from M5S’s leaders in both parliamentary houses, Davide Crippa and Ettore Licheri.
 
“The transition to the so-called Conte ter (three) is now inevitable and is the only way out of this wicked crisis.”
 
“The country is going through one of its worst ever periods due to the pandemic,” said foreign minister Luigi Di Maio on Twitter.
 
“We all have to gather around Giuseppe Conte.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ITALIAN POLITICS

Italian government rocked by Five Star party split

Italy’s government was plunged into turmoil on Tuesday as foreign minister Luigi Di Maio announced he was leaving his party to start a breakaway group.

Italian government rocked by Five Star party split

Di Maio said his decision to leave the Five Star Movement (M5S) – the party he once led – was due to its “ambiguity” over Italy’s support of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

He accused the party’s current leader, former prime minister Giuseppe Conte, of undermining the coalition government’s efforts to support Ukraine and weakening Italy’s position within the EU.

“Today’s is a difficult decision I never imagined I would have to take … but today I and lots of other colleagues and friends are leaving the Five Star Movement,” Di Maio told a press conference on Tuesday.

“We are leaving what tomorrow will no longer be the first political force in parliament.”

His announcement came after months of tensions within the party, which has lost most of the popular support that propelled it to power in 2018 and risks being wiped out in national elections due next year.

The split threatens to bring instability to Draghi’s multi-party government, formed in February 2021 after a political crisis toppled the previous coalition.

As many as 60 former Five Star lawmakers have already signed up to Di Maio’s new group, “Together for the Future”, media reports said.

Di Maio played a key role in the rise of the once anti-establishment M5S, but as Italy’s chief diplomat he has embraced Draghi’s more pro-European views.

READ ALSO: How the rebel Five Star Movement joined Italy’s establishment

Despite Italy’s long-standing political and economic ties with Russia, Draghi’s government has taken a strongly pro-NATO stance, sending weapons and cash to help Ukraine while supporting EU sanctions against Russia.

Di Maio backed the premier’s strong support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, including sending weapons for Kyiv to defend itself.

In this he has clashed with the head of Five Star, former premier Giuseppe Conte, who argues that Italy should focus on a diplomatic solution.

Di Maio attacked his former party without naming Conte, saying: “In these months, the main political force in parliament had the duty to support the diplomacy of the government and avoid ambiguity. But this was not the case,” he said.

Luigi Di Maio (R) applauds after Prime Minister Mario Draghi (L) addresses the Italian Senate on June 21st, 2022. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

“In this historic moment, support of European and Atlanticist values cannot be a mistake,” he added.

The Five Star Movement, he said, had risked the stability of the government “just to try to regain a few percentage points, without even succeeding”.

But a majority of lawmakers – including from the Five Star Movement – backed Draghi’s approach in March and again in a Senate vote on Tuesday.

Draghi earlier on Tuesday made clear his course was set.

“Italy will continue to work with the European Union and with our G7 partners to support Ukraine, to seek peace, to overcome this crisis,” he told the Senate, with Di Maio at his side.

“This is the mandate the government has received from parliament, from you. This is the guide for our action.”

The Five Star Movement stormed to power in 2018 general elections after winning a third of the vote on an anti-establishment ticket, and stayed in office even after Draghi was parachuted in to lead Italy in February 2021.

But while it once threatened to upend the political order in Italy, defections, policy U-turns and dismal polling have left it struggling for relevance.

“Today ends the story of the Five Star Movement,” tweeted former premier Matteo Renzi, who brought down the last Conte government by withdrawing his support.

SHOW COMMENTS