Immersed in a new political crisis aggravated by the differences in the confrontation of the coronavirus pandemic, the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, won a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on Monday (18) and won 24 hours of breathing.
If he had lost, he would have been forced to resign.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister will face another – harder – round in the Senate, where the government already had a slim majority before the current dispute began last Wednesday (13), when former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, party leader Italia Viva, announced the departure of two ministers, Teresa Bellanova (Agriculture) and Elena Bonetti (Family).
The move left the ruling coalition without a majority in parliament, as the country is hit by a third wave of infections from the disease that has killed more than 82,000 people.
After calling on the opposition to support him following the departure of Italia Viva, Conte won the vote 321 to 259 – the margin was larger than expected and gave the government an absolute majority in the House.
Keeping an eye on the votes of center deputies, the prime minister vowed to reshape his political agenda and reform his cabinet, saying he wanted to modernize Italy and speed up the implementation of a stimulus plan for the economy heavily affected by the recession.
“I ask for clear and transparent support, based on the strength and clarity of the proposal,” Conte told MEPs when the debate on the confidence vote opened.
He condemned Renzi’s small party for abandoning the reconstituted coalition 17 months ago.
“Let’s face it, we cannot undo everything that has happened, we cannot regain the trust and security which are essential conditions for working together. Now we have to turn the page”, a- he declared, apparently igniting the bridges of a possible reconciliation with the ex-premier.
The Italia Viva party affirmed that it did not agree with the way Conte faced the two simultaneous crises: health and economic.
Without mentioning Renzi’s name, the current prime minister said there was no “plausible justification” for the government leaving at this time.
Attention now turns to a vote in the Senate on Tuesday – when 321 lawmakers are expected to make a decision by late afternoon.
The result is quite unpredictable, but most analysts believe Conte’s victory, supported by a significant number of absences and abstentions.
If that happens, he remains in power, but now heads a minority government, in a precarious position if he tries to approve contentious issues.
The most optimistic account, analysts say, gives Conte 157 votes (four less than the clear majority).
“Minority governments are nothing new in Italy, but what will be unprecedented will be a minority government that tries to pull the country out of the biggest economic crisis since World War II amid a pandemic,” said analyst Wolfango Piccoli, risk management consultancy.
However, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, one of the stars of the coalition’s largest party, the 5-star anti-system movement, insists that a relative majority is already sufficient.
“It’s a majority. An absolute majority is only needed to vote on budget changes and a few other issues. And when we need it, we’ll find it,” he said in an interview with the newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Conte expects that if he wins the confidence vote in the Senate, he will be able to attract more parliamentarians and maintain his position.
Representatives from Italia Viva said they could join the coalition if their demands were met, but the 5-star and center-left Democratic Party (PD) said they did not want a new deal with Renzi , whom they accused of treason.
Matteo Renzi has been criticized by other members of the coalition for abandoning the agreement established in 2019, after months of political crisis in the country.
Nicola Zingaretti, leader of the Democratic Party, called the breach a “serious mistake” which “goes against the best interests of the country”.
Dealing with the pandemic is the main cause of disagreements between the former prime minister and the current one. Renzi criticized Conte for his management of the health crisis and the plan to use the more than 200 billion euros granted by the European Union to recover the Union’s savings.
He says the plan is centralized in Conte, with little power of participation from other coalition parties. “We will not allow anyone in Italy to have full powers. This means governing with decree-laws, which in turn become other decree-laws, as has been happening for months. This is a violation of the rules. of the game. We demand respect for democratic rules, ”Renzi said.