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Italian premier resigns, setting off scramble for new allies

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigns after a key coalition ally pulls his party’s support over Conte’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, setting the stage for consultations this week to determine if he can form a third government.

Conte tenders his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella, who holds off on any immediate decision other than to ask Conte to keep the government running in the near-term, Mattarella’s office says. The president will begin consulting with leaders of political parties starting tomorrow.

Conte is hoping to get Mattarella’s support to try to form a new coalition government that can steer the country as it battles the pandemic and an economic recession and creates a spending plan for the 209 billion euros ($254 billion) Italy is getting in European Union recovery funds.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks during the closing press conference of the seventh MED7 Mediterranean countries summit, on September 10, 2020, in Porticcio, Corsica. (Ludovic Marin/Pool/AFP)

Conte’s coalition government was thrown into turmoil earlier this month when a junior party headed by ex-Premier Matteo Renzi yanked its support. Conte won confidence votes in parliament last week, but fell short of an absolute majority in the Senate, forcing him to take the gamble of resignation.

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