The Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, also won the vote of confidence in the Senate, after obtaining 156 votes in favor of “yes”, with 140 against and 16 abstentions. Thus overcame the institutional crisis opened last week when the senators and deputies of the Italia Viva party left the ruling coalition.
Government passed the test with a simple majority, with five votes below the 161 of the absolute majority. The opposition immediately stressed that it demonstrated a structural weakness “because a true majority is lacking.” But in Italy on many occasions it was governed with simple majorities, authorized by the Constitution.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Argentine Senator Ricardo Merlo, whose Maie-Italia group was one of the engines to attract the “yes” that the government needed in the vote of confidence, said that “we have won and that is the important thing.” . “Now the initiative is in the hands of Prime Minister Conte,” he added.
All 18 senators from Italia Viva, the party led by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, abstained. His contrary vote would have brought down the government. This context weakens the government, weakens it in the face of the laws that must be approved in the coming months.
The Senate of Italy voted to keep Giuseppe Conte as prime minister. But without an absolute majority. Photo: ANSA
The scourge of the pandemic and the economic crisis
The parliamentary vote of confidence came at the worst moment because Italy suffers from the expansion of the coronavirus pandemic that began almost a year ago, which with the 603 deaths this Wednesday reached 83,157 deaths, with 10,497 infected.
This dramatic context, to which is added a serious economic crisis caused by the pandemic, was evoked by numerous senators this Tuesday, as it was also on Monday in the Chamber of Deputies, where Prime Minister Conte obtained an excellent result in the vote of confidence, winning an absolute majority with 321 votes against 259 of the opposition.
The crisis that forced the prime minister to appear before the cameras to ask for a vote of confidence was a forced decision after former Prime Minister Renzi withdrew from the government alliance the deputies and senators of his Italia Viva party last week.
While in Deputies the majority was able to weather the storm and maintain the absolute majority, in the Senate the abstention of the 18 senators from Renzi left the center-left government in a minority.
In the morning Conte reiterated the concepts expressed in Deputies on Monday. He added that “it is very difficult to govern with those who spread mines, accuse you of immobility or running too much, of not deciding and deciding too much. It is really difficult to govern in these conditions ”.
The premier warned that even if he managed to win the vote of confidence, the situation cannot return to the internal equilibrium prior to the crisis.
“We have to build new political ties with the parliamentary forces that have loyally supported the government and who really care about the fate of the country. I am willing to comply with it ”, he stressed.
The leader of the far-right Liga, Matteo Salvini, this Tuesday during the debate in the Senate. Photo: AFP
Conte did not name Renzi but called him “irresponsible” for having unleashed the crisis at such a delicate time for the country.
The prime minister received 31 applause from the audience of senators that supported him, which turned into an ovation when the senator for life Liliana Segré, 90 years old, arrived at the Senate precinct in the Madama Palace, who traveled from Milan to vote in favor of the government despite the advice of their doctors to avoid the effort due to the risks due to the pandemic.
A Jew, a survivor of the Auschwitz extermination camp, Segré is one of the six senators for life appointed by the President of the Republic. He has dedicated his life to recounting the experiences he lived together with thousands of Italians who died in the worst Nazi extermination camp during World War II.
In his speech, Conte affirmed his intention to continue leading the government “until the end of the Legislature”, in March 2023.
All the polls indicate that if there are early elections, the center-right alliance between the Northern League of sovereignist Matteo Salvini, the Brothers of Italy party led by Giorgia Meloni, and Forza Italia of three-time former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will win.
In both chambers there is a consistent number of legislators who, in the face of the danger of the dissolution of the chambers, a step prior to the presidential call for early elections, are willing to hold the government in office because they know they will not be reelected and will lose income and privileges two years before the end of the legislature.
In the vote of confidence that Conte won, this perspective was not present due to the general conviction that he would succeed in passing the test in both chambers.
The government inevitably inaugurates a new era and is preparing to summon legislators who are not part of the ruling center-left alliance to present them with an end-of-term pact, which will necessarily entail make policy and appointment concessions in the area of power.
A special attraction is the Recovery Plan that will come into force in the middle of the year, thanks to subsidies and loans for 209 billion euros of the 750 thousand that the European Union will distribute among the 27 countries that make it up to face the pandemic and the economic and social crisis.