Italian premier to offer resignation as government wobbles

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ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte will formally tell his wobbly coalition government on Tuesday that he intends to offer his resignation, his office said Monday.

Conte survived two confidence votes in Parliament last week but crucially lost his absolute majority in the Senate with the defection of a centrist ally, ex-Premier Matteo Renzi. That hobbled his government's effectiveness in the middle of the pandemic.

Conte's office said Monday night that the premier will inform his Cabinet at a meeting Tuesday morning of his “will to go to the Quirinale (presidential palace) to hand in his resignation."

Then Conte intends to head to the palace to meet with President Sergio Mattarella, who, as head of state, can accept the resignation, possibly asking the premier to try to form a more solid coalition that can command a majority in Parliament.

Mattarella could also reject the offer. But he has frequently stressed the need for the nation to have solid leadership as it struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, with its devastating effects on Italy's long-stagnant economy.

After consultations, the president could also accept the resignation and tap someone else to try to form a government. If no one can forge a more viable, dependable coalition, Mattarella has the option of dissolving Parliament, setting the stage for elections two years early.

Conte has led a long-bickering centre -left coalition for 16 months. Before that, for 15 months, he headed a government still with the populist 5-Star Movement, Parliament's largest party, but in coalition with the right-wing League party of Matteo Salvini.

That first government collapsed when Salvini yanked his support in a failed bid to win the premiership for himself.

The Associated Press