Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s administration faces a crisis after former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s party resigned from the government, taking several cabinet ministers with him.
Matteo Renzi, who heads the Italia Viva (IV) party, announced on Wednesday he could no longer support the Conte coalition government, leaving the alliance of the Five-Star Movement and the left-wing Democratic Party (PD) without a majority in the parliament.
The move comes after weeks of tensions between Renzi and Conte over various disagreements on policy — primarily relating to how to spend coronavirus bailout cash — along with many threats made by Renzi in the past to leave the government.
“It takes courage, inner freedom, and a sense of responsibility. We did not cause the crisis. It has been building for months. Now, we will leave our seats,” Renzi said, according to Il Giornale.
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By leaving the government, Renzi also takes away several key ministers who are also members of Italia Viva, including Minister of Agriculture Teresa Bellanova and Minister of Family and Equal Opportunities Elena Bonetti.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Conte had met with President Sergio Mattarella and told media that he hoped he could still count on Renzi’s support, saying the government could only work with a majority and that Italians would not accept a new government crisis.
Several scenarios could unfold following Renzi’s move, including a snap election, which is believed to be President Mattarella’s prefered scenario, as opposed to a fragile coalition in parliament.
Opinion polls show that an election could see the formation of a new centre-right government, as populist Senator Matteo Salvini’s League and the national-conservative Brother of Italy (FdI) scored highly in an Swg poll released this week.
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The poll showed Salvini’s League as the most popular in Italy at 23.2 per cent. While the Brother’s of Italy, led by firebrand Giorgia Meloni, scored 17.2 per cent, just over two percentage points fewer than the Democratic Party which scored 19.4 per cent.
The League has topped opinion polls for months, but the FdI has seen rapid growth in popularity over the last two years, rising from the 6 per cent at the European Parliament elections in 2019.
On Wednesday, Giorgia Meloni demanded the resignation of the Conte government, saying: “Italians on their knees, the government in disarray. Italy cannot afford to waste any more time. Conte must resign. Elections now.”
Matteo Salvini also released a statement on behalf of the centre-right coalition, saying: “The centre-right is the country’s leading political force and after a summit that confirmed the great unity of the coalition, asks that the prime minister take note of the crisis and resign immediately or, otherwise, appear in Parliament tomorrow to ask for a vote of confidence.”
“We rely on the wisdom of the President of the Republic for a quick solution: the centre-right parties clearly reaffirm their unwillingness to support left-wing governments,” he added.