The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte goes on the offensive in the government crisis caused by the splinter party Italia viva. The prime minister will appear in the Chamber of Deputies on Monday and then ask the vote of confidence, the parliament announced on Thursday evening. Conte is apparently looking for a majority for his now third cabinet. The non-party lawyer has been in office since June 2018 and has already survived a change of coalition.
On Tuesday afternoon, Conte wanted to appear in the second chamber of parliament, the Senate. There, too, he should ask the question of confidence. President Sergio Mattarella had previously signed the decree that accepted the resignation of the two ministers from the ranks of the splinter party Italia viva – Agriculture Minister Teresa Bellanova and Family Minister Elena Bonetti – announced on Wednesday. Prime Minister Conte took over the Ministry of Agriculture on an interim basis.
The small party around expremier Matteo Renzi left the coalition on Wednesday, triggering the government crisis. The two strongest government forces, the Social Democrats (PD) and the Five Stars, want to continue to support Conte. Whether the independent lawyer can set up a third government is still open.
The President of the Chamber of Deputies, Roberto Fico, suspended the parliamentary sessions on Thursday and called a meeting of the chairmen of all parties represented in parliament. After this meeting, it was reported that Conte would ask the vote of confidence on Monday.
Conte described the exit of the coalition party Italia viva from the cabinet as “serious damage” for Italy. He had tried to the last minute to keep the dialogue with Renzi’s party open in order to avert a government crisis – but to no avail, said the 56-year-old Conte. “This government crisis is causing serious damage to our country amid a pandemic and a very tough exam period,” Conte said at a Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday evening. Every attempt to persuade Renzi to remain in the coalition failed.
The largest coalition partner, the Five Star Movement, said he wanted nothing more to do with Renzi. They are clearly going their separate ways, said Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. The five-star founder Beppe Grillo posted a photo on his blog on Thursday in which he can be seen with Conte. In a play on words with the last name of the head of government, the slogan “Siamo ConTe” (We are with you) could be read.
Even the Social Democrats did not rule out the possibility of a third Conte government. However, they no longer want to work with Renzi’s party either. PD boss Nicola Zingaretti described Italia viva as “untrustworthy”. It undermines the stability of any future government scenario.
The current crisis is damaging Renzi’s popularity. According to a survey by the polling institute IPSOS, 73 percent of Italians believe that the politician plunged Italy into the government crisis out of his own interest. 46 percent of those surveyed do not understand why the coalition broke.