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Italian Prime Minister Conte resigns, President begins consultations on new cabinet

The Prime Minister’s intent to resign became known on January 25

ROME, January 26. /TASS/. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has submitted his resignation, the office of President Sergio Mattarella announced Tuesday after a meeting between the head of state and the head of the government.

Prior to the meeting, Conte held a Cabinet meeting, where he announced his plans. The Prime Minister’s intent to resign became known on January 25. This decision was motivated by the Five Star Movement - Democratic Party coalition’s loss of Senate majority, after Conte’s predecessor Matteo Renzi withdrew his small Italia Viva party from the coalition.

President Mattarella announced that political consultation on overcoming the governmental crisis will commence on January 17. The resignation of the government does not mean automatic dissolution of the Parliament and snap elections. If Conte has enough support, Mattarella has an option to ask Conte to form a new government. A number of observers speculated that Mattarella will try to avoid snap elections for a number of reasons, including the coronavirus pandemic.

The Five Star Movement political party, the Democratic Party and the Free and Equal party (represented by Health Minister Roberto Speranza) already expressed their support to Conte as a head of the upcoming cabinet.

The political consultations, led by the president, should make it clear whether the current parliament membership could be preserved, while a new government will be formed based on the parliamentary majority. Some predicted that Mattarella will delegate the negotiations on the new cabinet to Conte. However, proposition of a new candidate for the Prime Minister’s office was also an option.

3 for Conte

The new Cabinet would de facto become the third one for Conte. He was summoned to the office of the Prime Minister as a third person after the Five Start Movement and the Lega party formed a compromise coalition in 2018. This coalition crumbled after Lega leader Matteo Salvini withdrew from it unilaterally, hoping for new elections at the peak of his popularity. However, the Five Star Movement managed to form a coalition with the Democratic Party. Renzi, who led the Democratic Party before, facilitated this alliance, but announced establishment of his own political force immediately after the alliance was formed.

It is worth mentioning that, during the previous political crisis, Conte was publicly supported by then-US President Donald Trump, whose relations with the Italian Prime Minister appeared to be much better than with the rest of his European colleagues. Now, calling for the "political responsibility" of the parliamentarians, whose support he wished to secure, Conte mentioned the new US President Joe Biden. According to the Prime Minister, with him in office, "the Italian political project is reinforced."

Last week, the current Conte Cabinet already received support of both chambers of the Italian parliament, but the Senate voted in his favor via a simple majority, with Italia Viva abstained from the vote. The issue of additional votes and the update of the ruling coalition remains on the table. A vote on issues of justice was supposed to take place on January 27, threatening a disaster for the Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede, one of the key ministers of the current cabinet, who has caught flak already.