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Italian premier appeals for support ahead of crucial parliament vote

By Fatima Sule [NAN]


Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has urged lawmakers not to upset the government’s fight against the coronavirus as he faces a confidence vote in the lower house of parliament on Monday.

He said his government had taken “maximum care” over the interests of Italians during the health crisis, adding that the country was in the midst of “dramatic moments” in the pandemic.

Conte said his plan to help Italy recover was “much improved”.

“Help us!” he said, urging lawmakers to approve the confidence motion.

The crucial vote was sparked by the decision of the Italia Viva party of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to withdraw from the ruling coalition, robbing it of a majority.

Renzi has butted heads with Conte in a fight over the best way to use EU funds being sent to Italy to help it deal with the economic shocks of the coronavirus pandemic.

Renzi wants more investments in the healthcare system and for the government to seek to access more emergency funding.

Viva Italia had two ministers in the governing coalition.

If Conte cannot find another partner for his centre-left alliance or work out a deal with Renzi, new elections loom, which could be favourable to the country’s right-wing populists.

However, there is also hope Conte could cobble together a new coalition, his third since taking office in 2018, or find a way to forge a government of national unity.

If Conte survives the vote in the Chamber of Deputies, the next hurdle awaits him on Tuesday: another vote in the Senate, the smaller chamber.

The 56-year-old needs the approval of both chambers.

If he fails, his administration could be forced out of office. (dpa/NAN)

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