Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte loses majority in Senate | TBEN | 13.01.2021

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Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi sparked a political crisis by withdrawing his Italia Viva (Italy Alive) party from the ruling coalition and leaving Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte without a ruling majority in the upper house of parliament, the Senate .

Two of Italia Viva’s ministers – Agriculture Minister Teresa Bellanova and Family Minister Elena Bonetti – also left government on Wednesday.

The Italia Viva party is a small but crucial centrist party led by Renzi, who ruled Italy from 2014 to 2016.

Why did Renzi stop?

Renzi had long threatened to quit the ruling coalition and criticized Conte’s plans to spend € 200 billion ($ 243 billion) in EU aid to coronaviruses. The funds aim to revive Italy’s struggling economy.

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Renzi would also have had enough of Conte’s frequent government by means of decrees instead of turning to parliament.

“Italy Alive did not cause the political crisis,” Renzi said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We will not allow anyone to have full powers,” he added.

What could happen next?

Renzi pledged to continue to support the government on policies to help business and anti-pandemic measures. The politician also indicated he was ready for a compromise, telling reporters in Rome that further developments were “up to the prime minister”.

“We are ready for all kinds of discussions,” Renzi said.

One possible scenario would be for the coalition parties to negotiate a new pact with Renzi’s party, which could lead to a cabinet reshuffle. However, it is not known if Conte will take this route to negotiate further with Renzi.

If a ruling coalition fails to agree on a way forward, Italian President Sergio Mattarella could try to put together a
government of national unity to deal with the current coronavirus crisis.

Mattarella could also dissolve parliament and call a snap election rather than risk an alternative coalition with fragile support.

Renzi, 45, said he was convinced there would be no early elections.

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What is Conte’s position?

Earlier on Wednesday, Conte said he hoped Renzi would stay in government and the cabinet would remain united until the next election slated for 2023.

With Italy still stricken by the coronavirus pandemic, Conte added that “for sure the country would certainly not understand a crisis … people are asking us to continue, in such a complex and difficult situation.”

It remains to be seen how Conte, or his main allies, the 5-Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party (PD), will react.

Conte still enjoys a comfortable majority in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Italian parliament.

wmr / dj (dpa, Reuters, TBEN)

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