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Iran Press TV

Italian PM Conte resigns amid deepening political crisis

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 26 January 2021 4:39 PM

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has handed in his resignation amid growing criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and an ensuing financial crisis grappling the European nation.

Conte officially resigned on Tuesday after former prime minister Matteo Renzi pulled his Italia Viva Party out of the governing coalition.

President Sergio Mattarella, who is the head of the Italian state, confirmed he had accepted Conte's resignation. He asked Conte to stay on in a caretaker capacity while consultations with party leaders continued to form a new administration.

Renzi earlier withdrew his party from the ruling coalition, effectively stripping Conte's government of a parliament majority and risking its collapse.

The outgoing premier survived a confidence vote in the lower house of Italy's parliament last week but failed to secure a majority in the Senate, the upper house.

If Conte has a strong enough prospect of forming a majority, then he can be tasked with forming a new executive with a broader coalition.

His remaining allies, the center-left Democratic Party and the populist 5-Star Movement, have said they will back the former law professor.

However, efforts to lure centrist and independent senators into the coalition to fill the hole left by Renzi have had little success.

If he fails, the president could ask another candidate to try and form a new administration, or early elections would be called.

Tensions between Conte and Renzi had been rising for weeks over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has so far claimed more than 85,000 lives in Italy.

The former premier had long threatened to quit the government following disagreements with Conte's plans over how to spend billions of euros promised by the European Union (EU) to relaunch the economy amid the coronavirus crisis.

Renzi blamed Conte for lacking strategic vision, saying he risked squandering the unprecedented EU bonanza on handouts rather than using them for long-term investments.

The government has been under fire as Italy's coronavirus crisis has triggered its worst recession since World War Two. Conte, in power since 2018, also had to contend with a high unemployment and public debt.

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