Italy PM Conte wins crucial Senate vote to stay in power

0

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has won a crucial vote to stay in power – days after former PM Matteo Renzi pulled his party out of the coalition.

The vote in the Senate – 156-140, with 16 abstentions – means, however, that Mr Conte does not have an absolute majority in the upper chamber.

Opposition parties say they plan to ask President Sergio Mattarella to intervene to force him to resign.

Mr Conte, a law professor, has been prime minister since 2018.

He first led a populist coalition, but the main parties in the current centrist government are the anti-establishment Five Star (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

The prime minister told the Senate it was vital to maintain political cohesion faced with the “historic challenge” of the pandemic.

Speaking in the Senate debate, Mr Renzi told Mr Conte to make bolder reforms, saying “Italy is wasting its biggest opportunity since the Marshall Plan” – a reference to the US aid for war-shattered Europe in 1948. He accused Mr Conte of being preoccupied with distributing government posts.

Matteo Renzi, file picture 1 Feb 2020
image captionMatteo Renzi has had various policy battles in Mr Conte’s coalition

Even if Mr Conte had lost the vote, a snap election was not a certainty as President Mattarella still has the option of inviting him to assemble a new coalition.

On Monday he won a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies – the lower house – by 321 to 259, securing an absolute majority there.

Mr Renzi objects to Mr Conte’s plans for spending €209bn (£186bn; $254bn) of EU recovery funds – part of a €750bn EU rescue for the Covid crisis.

The former prime minister wants investment in the digital economy and green energy, and rejects Mr Conte’s plan to let technocrats, rather than MPs, decide spending priorities.

Italy has had plenty of minority governments before, but that outcome would leave Mr Conte weaker at a time of national emergency, with Italians struggling under partial lockdown.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.