Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte handed in his resignation on Tuesday, in a tactical political maneuver that he hopes will allow him to build a new coalition.
Italy was thrown into a fresh political crisis last week when Conte faced two confidence votes. He survived but lost his governing majority in the Senate after his predecessor, Matteo Renzi, withdrew his small Italia Viva party from the ruling coalition, citing frustrations with the government’s management of the pandemic and a recession.
Conte handed his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella on Tuesday, according to the presidential palace, which said in a statement that the President had not immediately accepted it.
“The President of the Republic is reserving his decision and has asked the government to stay in office for the management of ordinary affairs,” it said.
It added that consultations with leaders of Italy’s major political parties would begin on Wednesday afternoon.
Mattarella is likely to invite the Prime Minister to try to build a new governing majority. If Conte receives the mandate, he would likely look for a broader coalition and to add five more senators to the fold.
Without a Senate majority, Conte would struggle pass effective legislation at a time of crisis for the European nation, which has suffered years of political instability in addition to new economic challenges amid the pandemic.
Another option to break the impasse would be to call snap elections, two years early.
Conte’s coalition, which was formed in 2019, is led by the center-left Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S). Despite vast political differences, the unusual alliance prevented snap elections which could have favored the far-right League Party.
Conte has enjoyed high approval ratings after Italy imposed Europe’s first lockdown last spring, in response to spiraling number of Covid-19 cases and deaths. Despite not having any political affiliation or party behind him, he remains Italy’s most popular politician with an approval rating above 50%, Reuters reports.