Italy: Bowing to crisis, prime minister steps down

ROME – Bowing to the emerging crisis, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday submitted his resignation, while maneuvering to boost his chances to return as the top candidate to lead a new government backed by a broader coalition.

After getting the resignation, President Sergio Mattarella on Wednesday will start consultations with the parties in parliament – expected to last just a couple of days – to try to cobble together a new cabinet able to lead Italy through a second wave of the pandemic and a dramatic recession.

Conte was forced to resign after losing last week’s confidence vote in the Senate, which sparked a government crisis just as Italy is faced with crucial economic and political decisions.

The outcome of the confidence vote left Conte without a sound majority in parliament, after former Premier Matteo Renzi pulled his tiny Italia Viva Party from the ruling coalition.

Having failed in a last-minute bid to broaden his majority, Conte and his government were forced to pull the plug, to avoid another defeat in parliament later this week.

Tuesday’s move marks the formal opening of a political crisis and leaves Mattarella faced with key choices.

He could give Conte another mandate to try to form a government, but he could also choose another politician or a technocrat to lead a transition or “national unity” government supported by a wider majority.

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