Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will resign amid pandemic and political turmoil

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will resign on Tuesday morning, his office said in a statement on Monday, heightening political turmoil in the country as it battles Covid-19.

“The Council of Ministers is convened for tomorrow morning at 9 am, during which the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, will communicate to the ministers his will to go to the (Presidential Palace) and hand in his resignation,” the statement read. He will then see the President Sergio Mattarella, it added.

The resignation is a calculated move that could ultimately afford him another chance at forming a government.

Conte survived two confidence votes in Parliament last week. But he lost his governing majority in the Senate after his predecessor, Matteo Renzi, decided to withdraw the small Italia Viva party from Conte’s ruling coalition over frustrations with the government’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic and attendant economic recession.

President Mattarella can choose whether to accept Conte’s resignation, and is likely to invite him to try to build a new governing majority. If Conte receives the mandate to form a new majority, he would need to add five more senators to his existing coalition.

Conte’s coalition, which was formed in 2019, is led by the center-left Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S). Despite vast political differences, the unusual alliance prevented snap elections which could have favored the far-right League Party.

Conte has enjoyed high approval ratings after Italy imposed Europe’s first lockdown last spring, in response to spiraling number of Covid-19 cases and deaths. Despite not having any political affiliation or party behind him, he remains Italy’s most popular politician with an approval rating above 50%, Reuters reports.

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