In the midst of a pandemic, the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte finds itself on borrowed time after Matteo Renzi’s decision on Wednesday to withdraw his party from the ruling coalition. It finds itself deprived of a majority in Parliament.
After weeks of criticism and threats, Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister from 2014 to 2016, announced during a press conference the resignation of the two ministers of his party Italia Viva: Teresa Bellanova (Agriculture) and Elena Bonetti (Family ).
Without the 18 senators of Italia Viva, the government led by Giuseppe Conte loses its majority in the upper house, but on the other hand it remains sufficiently large in the chamber of deputies.
Management of the criticized pandemic
While the health crisis has already killed more than 80,000 people on the peninsula, Matteo Renzi criticizes Giuseppe Conte in particular for his management, considered lonely, of the pandemic and his plan to spend the more than 200 billion euros that the European Union must grant Italy as part of its mega-stimulus plan.
“We will not allow anyone to have full powers (…) We ask for respect for democratic rules,” said Matteo Renzi. “We have no prejudices either on the names, or on the formulas”, he added, seeming open to a possible new government led by Giuseppe Conte.
“Never” alliance on the right
Matteo Renzi at the same time excluded any support for the right-wing opposition, and in particular the League (extreme right) of Matteo Salvini: “We will never give life to a government with the forces of the sovereignist right that we have fought.”
During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening, Giuseppe Conte “deplored the significant damage that a government crisis causes to our country in the midst of a pandemic”. “These resignations were communicated to me by email and I accepted them,” said the Prime Minister, whose remarks were reported by several media.
The two heavyweights of the coalition, the 5 Star Movement (M5S, antisystem) and the Democratic Party (center left, former Matteo Renzi formation), assured Giuseppe Conte of their support.
“While the country is facing a health crisis, Renzi withdraws his ministers. I believe that no one understands this choice”, denounced the leader of M5S Vito Crimi on Twitter, while the deputy secretary of the PD Andrea Orlando has lamented “a serious mistake”.
Resignation or vote of confidence
As for the right and the far right, they called in a joint statement that Conte “resign immediately or appear before parliament for a vote of confidence”. “If his confidence is refused (…) it will be necessary to organize elections.”
Faced with this crisis, Conte could ask for a vote of confidence in Parliament, hoping to obtain enough votes in the opposition to compensate for the departure of Renzi’s party, even if this option remains unlikely, the head of government believing he has need a “solid” majority without looking for “a vote here, a vote there”.
Another hypothesis could be for the Prime Minister to resign and get a new term from President Sergio Mattarella with a reshuffled team. Giuseppe Conte also spoke on Wednesday at his request with Sergio Mattarella. This reshuffle could be a way to appease Renzi by giving his party larger ministries.
afp / jpe