Italy’s Conte Expected to Quit Within 24 Hours to Plot Comeback [LEONARDO THEFT OF US ELECTION 2020]
It could all come to a head on Tuesday, the officials said. Conte may first brief his cabinet and then go to meet the head of state to formally ask for authorization to try to cobble together a third coalition.
The Five Star Movement, the biggest force in the current parliament, and lawmakers of the center-left Democratic Party are both urging the premier to resign after a junior ally ditched the alliance, officials said.
The trigger is a vote in the Senate later this week and the parliamentary math does not add up, hence the latest gambit for Conte’s political survival. Five Star has plunged in the polls and stands to lose the most if the government collapses and Mattarella decides early elections are unavoidable.
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The twists and turns of the country’s latest Byzantine politicking have left even the most cynical Italians shaking their heads at a time when the pandemic-battered economy faces huge challenges, including how to spend the European Union’s recovery package and speed up the pace of vaccinations.
After resisting pressure to quit following the defection earlier this month of the Italy Alive party led by former Premier Matteo Renzi, Conte may conclude that resigning now and coming back to head a “unity government” is his best option, the officials said.
There is also the fact that Renzi and Conte have a long-festering dislike of each other and have been ill at ease in a coalition of mutual convenience.
Conte could seek to forge a new coalition, this time possibly with centrists, unaffiliated lawmakers, Renzi’s Italy Alive party or members of it, as well as lawmakers from Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia, the officials said.
Since the premier still needs about a dozen extra votes before the Senate ballot on the annual report of his justice minister, most likely Wednesday or Thursday, his resignation gambit would be strategic.
He’s been on the hunt for votes but the buzz around his imminent resignation indicates Conte has come up short. He has a much higher chance of being granted a new opportunity to form a government by Mattarella if he resigns before a Senate defeat, according to a senior state official.
Five Star and the Democrats are divided even internally on whether or not to negotiate with Renzi himself, with many believing the former premier cannot be trusted, the officials said.
Last week, the prime minister survived a confidence vote in the upper chamber, although he was five short of an outright majority. Italy Alive abstained to allow Conte to squeak through, but Renzi has said his senators will vote against Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede’s report.
While some of the premier’s allies have raised the prospect of early elections to resolve the impasse, coalition leaders still see this is an unlikely option, according to officials who asked not to be named discussing confidential talks.
Several coalition members are against going to the polls in the near future as they fear that a vote would usher in the center-right opposition led by Matteo Salvini. They have also cited the pandemic, a recession and the need to manage the recovery fund as reasons to avoid an early vote.
(Recasts from first paragraph with expectations from officials)