Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte resigns

The country’s president will now start consultations with other party leaders, with Mr Conte staying on in a caretaker capacity.

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has resigned, according to the country’s president.

Mr Conte survived two confidence votes in parliament last week, but then lost his absolute majority in the Senate after centrist ally and former PM Matteo Renzi defected.

This has made it much more difficult for the premier to pass legislation or to make decisions on the COVID-19 crisis, which has devastated Italy’s long suffering economy.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks during a news conference
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has resigned

The country’s president, Sergio Mattarella, will start consultations with the leaders of other parties on Wednesday, according to a statement, adding that Mr Conte had been asked to stay on in a caretaker capacity

Mr Conte has led a long-bickering centre-left coalition for 16 months.

For the 15 months before that, he headed a government 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 Mr Salvini pulled his support in a failed bid to win the premiership for himself.

Premier Giuseppe Conte attends a debate at the Senate prior to a confidence vote, in Rome, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. Conte fights for his political life with an address aimed at shoring up support for his government, which has come under fire from former Premier Matteo Renzi's tiny but key Italia Viva (Italy Alive) party over plans to relaunch the pandemic-ravaged economy. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, pool)

What the next Italian government might look like, could come down to the party of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Just hours before Mr Conte’s office said he intended to resign, the ex-premier said he was trusting the “political wisdom” of Mr Mattarella to indicate the way out of the crisis.

“The high road is one only,” he said in a statement.

Mr Berlusconi suggested a “new government that would represent substantial unity of the country in a moment of emergency” or an election “to give back the (deciding) word to the Italian” voters.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella speaks during a ceremony on the tenth anniversary of the death of former Italian President Francesco Cossiga, at the University of Sassari
Italian President Sergio Mattarella may order Mr Conte to try to form another coalition

Mr Conte may still be asked to form a third coalition government by Mr Mattarella, but opponents could push for an early election instead.

Sky News

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