Rome (AP) – With an emotional speech, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte campaigned for the confidence of parliamentarians in the swirling government crisis.
“Help us!” Shouted the independent lawyer during his nearly hour-long speech in the larger of the two chambers. He appealed to ‘the will’ of other parties from the so-called pro-European camp. Conte’s center-left coalition broke up five days ago. Confidence votes were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in the bicameral parliament.
In the speech in the House of Representatives, Conte indicated that there were still positions available in his team. “I have no plans to remain an agricultural delegate,” said Conte. After the resignation of the Minister of Agriculture, he took over her post temporarily. Conte’s speech was interrupted by applause from his supporters and numerous interjections from the right-wing opposition camp.
Last Wednesday, former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s small party Italia Viva broke with the government. Conte mentioned the party in his address, but not Renzis’s name. Two party ministers had left the cabinet in a dispute over the use of EU Corona aid money. The government consisting of the Five Star Movement, the Social Democrats (PD) and the small party Liberi e Uguali (The Free and Equals) lost its own majority.
Renzi was not satisfied with the way Conte wanted to distribute the approximately 210 billion euros from the EU reconstruction fund. He had also applied for money from the ESM Euro Rescue Fund. However, the five-star movement wants to forgo the ESM money. She fears that this will increase Brussels’ influence on Italian politics.
The first vote of confidence had to take place in the Chamber of Deputies on Monday afternoon, the result of which was not expected until hours after Conte’s speech. Because the MPs had to vote individually by name. The room has 630 seats.
According to media reports, the 56-year-old prime minister’s government should come through in the vote. Tuesday should be more exciting, in the Senate, the smaller of the two chambers. There the voting relations are closer. So far, Italia Viva had achieved government majority in the Senate. Conte must now try to balance their votes.
If the Southern Italian, in power since 2018, stumbles while voting in the Chamber of Deputies, his resignation is more likely. In this case, the head of state Sergio Mattarella could first try to find an alternative to Conte, or start early elections.
It cannot be ruled out that the government will continue without an absolute majority. “An absolute majority is needed for changes to the budget and for very few other legal acts. And if we need to, we’ll have it, ”said Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement.
Early elections are unpopular with many troops in Rome, not only because of the challenges of the pandemic. The left camp fears that right-wing parties can gain ground. Matteo Salivini and his Lega repeatedly stressed that they could reach a government majority with other right-wing parties.
Italy has also decided to reform the electoral law. After that, the parliament is downsized and many members lose their seats. The regular parliament will only be redefined in the spring of 2023.