Italy's govt teeters amid political crisis

Petra Kaminsky
·2-min read

The Italian parliament has summoned Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to explain the current crisis in the governing coalition before lawmakers, news agency ANSA reports.

Due to the uncertainty of the situation, parliament interrupted its Thursday session and its president, Roberto Fico, asked Conte to appear before the chamber.

Later on Thursday, Conte met with Italy's head of state President Sergio Mattarella and promised to appear before the deputies and senators.

Conte's quick resignation had been thought possible but was considered less likely by the evening after his visit to the president.

Italy's government remains on the brink of collapse after two ministers from former prime minister Matteo Renzi's party Italia Viva resigned on Wednesday over a spat to do with the European Union's coronavirus aid package.

Renzi's Italia Viva party is small but key to the survival of the coalition, which also includes the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S).

Nicola Zingaretti, PD head, called a meeting with senior party leaders.

On Wednesday, he sharply criticised Viva Italia's move as a "mistake against Italy" on Twitter.

The M5S leadership also called a meeting.

Tensions among the parties have simmered for weeks over the use of about 210 billion euros ($A328 billion) from the EU post-pandemic reconstruction fund.

Italian media speculated that Conte is keen to avoid new elections.

He could therefore ask for a vote of confidence in parliament and try to find another coalition configuration.

A return of Italia Viva to the coalition has also not been excluded.

The next parliamentary elections in Italy are not scheduled until 2023.

A poll by the Ipsos Institute earlier this week suggested that almost half of the country's citizens do not understand the reasons behind the government's crisis.

Renzi, who is now considered arrogant by many compatriots, is currently trailing in the polls, with Italia Viva polling at just three per cent.

Prime Minister Conte, on the other hand, continues to enjoy high levels of support.