Published: Wed, January 20, 2021

Italian PM Conte wins Senate confidence vote_china

Italian PM Conte wins Senate confidence vote_china

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte was fighting for his political life Monday with an address to the lower chamber of Parliament that aims to shore up support for his government, which has come under fire from an ally over plans to relaunch the country's pandemic-ravaged economy.

Agnese Ortolani, an analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, said the numbers were very uncertain, but that Conte could get the votes he needs to survive as long as Renzi's senators abstain, as they have said they will.

Critics accuse him of seeking to destabilise Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's administration in a bid for bigger cabinet roles - at the worst possible time.

Conte's tweet indicated, however, that he wanted to try to forge on, no matter how hobbled his coalition was left by the defection of lawmakers loyal to former Premier Matteo Renzi.

In a plea to opposition deputies, he asked for their help. "We ask all the political forces to help us relaunch with the maximum speed and help us fix the damage to citizens' trust that the crisis has produced".

What sparked the political crisis?

Former prime minister Matteo Renzi, once the darling of Italian politics, has reclaimed the spotlight with a manoeuvre that risks toppling the government - and leaving him more unpopular than before.

The relationship between the two men has been fraught and completely deteriorated during the Christmas period.

In boasting of how much European Union pandemic recovery aid should be coming Italy's way, Conte held himself out as staunchly pro-EU in a bid to appeal to centrists.

Renzi and the 5-Stars had clashed over the Movement's refusal to accept European Union loan money to help reinforce Italy's health care system.

However, that demand was unlikely to have been granted.

After months of threats, Italia Viva finally followed through on January 13, with Renzi announcing the resignation of two ministers from the government only hours after the Recovery Plan was approved by the rest of the cabinet.

Conte has over the past two days appealed to both the Senate and the lower Chamber of Deputies to support him, both to guide Italy out of the crisis and keep the right-wing opposition out of power. Their departure casts uncertainty over whether the current government can survive.

"Let's be frank, we can't undo what has happened".

"Let's be frank, we can't undo what has happened, we can't regain the trust and confidence that are essential conditions for working together. Now we have to turn the page", he said.

Among them was Giorgia Meloni, who heads the fast-rising far-right Brothers of Italy party.

On Tuesday afternoon he will have another test to pass in Italy's Senate. Italian newspapers are forecasting he may be four to five senators short of achieving that. Had he lost either vote, he would have had to resign.

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