Conte stepped down after losing a parliamentary majority but is hoping to return at the head of a strengthened government

The head of state is set to meet the presidents of both parliamentary chambers before talks on Thursday and Friday with party leaders

Italy’s president will begin discussions with political leaders on Wednesday on forming a new government following the resignation of Prime Minister

Conte stepped down on Tuesday after divisions in the ruling coalition left him without a parliamentary majority but is hoping to return at the head of a strengthened government.

President Sergio Mattarella, the ultimate arbiter of Italian politics, asked Conte to stay on while he establishes if this is viable – or if someone else should take over.

The head of state is set to meet the presidents of both parliamentary chambers before talks on Thursday and Friday with party leaders.

The turmoil comes at a crucial time for

, as it seeks to draft a 220-billion-euro (US$267 billion) spending plan for European Union funds intended to help the country recover from the coronavirus crisis.

Italy was the first European country to face the full force of the pandemic and has since suffered badly, with the economy plunged into recession and deaths still rising by around 400 a day. More than 86,000 people have died.

Parts of the country remain under partial lockdown and the vaccination programme has slowed – a problem the government has blamed on delays in deliveries from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

The current ruling parties, including the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), are hoping to stay in office and avoid snap elections.

“With a government that has resigned, everything will be slower and more difficult,” warned Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, one of the leaders of M5S, the largest in parliament.

He urged lawmakers to get behind Conte, saying: “It is the moment of truth, in these hours we will know who defends and loves our nation and who only thinks of their own benefit.”

Opinion polls suggest that the opposition coalition, which includes Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s far-right League, will win power.

But forming a new government would mean working again with former premier Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva party, which sparked the current crisis by leaving the coalition in a row over the handling of the pandemic.

Conte, who cancelled a scheduled speech to the World Economic Forum on Wednesday, said after his resignation that Italy required “a clear perspective and a government with a larger and safer majority”.

“My resignation serves this possibility: the formation of a new government that can offer a prospect of national salvation,” he wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

However, he acknowledged that he himself – a former law professor plucked from obscurity to lead a previous M5S-led government after the 2018 elections – may not necessarily be at the helm.

“The only thing that really matters, regardless of who will be called to lead Italy, is that the Republic can raise its head again,” he wrote.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Dozens detained at Kazakhstan protests over activist’s death

Police in Kazakhstan have arrested dozens of people in the Central Asian country’s largest city after an activist’s death in jail triggered diplomatic condemnation and calls for anti-government rallies. In the capital Almaty, policemen cordoned off the city’s main square…

Germany bans Hezbollah, conducts multiple anti-terrorist raids

“[Interior Minister Horst Seehofer] today banned the operation of the Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah (Party of God) in Germany,” an Interior Ministry spokesperson tweeted on Thursday morning.  Police measures have been taking place in several federal states at the same time since the…

Coronavirus could reverse a decade of progress in tackling poverty

The coronavirus pandemic could set back the fight to reduce global poverty by between eight and 10 years, according to a new United Nations-backed study. In their most conservative model, researchers found that at least 131 million people could be…

Back-to-back storms barrel toward Gulf Coast

After a day as a hurricane, Tropical Storm Marco approached Louisiana for an expected landfall around midday Monday, while Tropical Storm Laura was forecast to move along Cuba’s southern coast during the day before entering the Gulf of Mexico and…