I.Talia’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also won the second vote of confidence in parliament on Tuesday. Less than a week after his center-left coalition broke in the dispute over Corona aid funds, he received a majority of 156 votes in the Senate in Rome. He achieved his minimum goal of maintaining power in the smaller chamber, but missed an absolute majority. 140 senators voted against the independent head of government.
On Monday evening, Conte had already won a first vote of confidence in the larger Chamber of Deputies – there with an absolute majority. The government was broken by the departure of the small party Italia Viva of the former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on January 13th. The dispute was about the use of EU aid funds in the corona pandemic.
The two victories in the questions of trust mean a success for the 56-year-old lawyer Conte. But a stable coalition in Rome is not yet in sight. Many observers predicted difficult times for the future minority government. Conte had campaigned in speeches in both houses that other politicians from pro-European, liberal or socialist camps should vote for his ailing government. It currently consists of the Five Star Movement, the Social Democrats (PD) and another small party. “The numbers are important, and today they are in a special way, but more important is the quality of the political project,” he said on Tuesday.
His opponent Renzi (46), who has a senatorial seat, also spoke up in the eleven-hour debate. Renzi accused Conte of wrong concepts in the fight against the pandemic crisis. The head of government sticks to his post even without a majority. “We were told that we would lose everything,” said Renzi. “Yes, but we taught that you can do without the ministerial chair, but not ideas.”
In Rome, the government is expected to try to secure the basis of its power over the next few days and weeks. She might plan to retain supporters from the questions of trust more tightly. Conte aggressively offered “willing” supporters of other political groups to cooperate.
Broken from the corona aid
The small chamber has 321 seats, there are 315 elected members and 6 senators for life. An absolute majority was achieved there with 161 votes. Italia Viva had previously announced abstentions.
The coalition, which has ruled since 2019, had fallen out on the issue of the distribution of corona aid from the EU. Italia Viva had demanded that Rome should apply for funds from the European rescue fund ESM. Conte, who is close to the five-star movement, rejected this.
Despite all the financial straits in Italy, the movement is reluctant to take ESM loans. After the experience of the 2008 financial crisis, star politicians see them as an instrument of Brussels interference. Conte has been head of government since mid-2018. He has already survived a coalition break. Matteo Salvini and his right-wing Lega instigated it in 2019.