Rome: Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has failed again to win the required majority for continuing in office, and is going to face a second round of voting on Tuesday to determine if he can continue in office.
A junior coalition partner withdrew its ministers from the government in protest against Conte's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Conte on Monday won a virtual confidence vote in the lower Chamber of Deputies with a 321-to-259 majority in favour of his government with 27 abstentions, including from the defecting Italia Viva (Italy Alive) party of ex-Premier Matteo Renzi. However, when Conte faced the Senate on Tuesday to urge continued backing, the support he has been able to garner in the upper chamber looked slimmer. The coalition he leads is headed by the 5-Star Movement and Democratic Party.
Even if Conte survives the vote, his already fragile coalition will be weakened. The opposition centre-right is demanding an early election, but that option is considered the least likely outcome of the political crisis, given the difficulty of organising a campaign and vote during a pandemic.
Renzi had forced the crisis last week after pulling out his two ministers from the government, thereby compelling Conte to try to scramble support from other parties or of defectors from Renzi's small centrist forces. In the end, Renzi's Italia Viva deputies abstained from the Chamber vote and were expected to do the same in the Senate tally.
A key issue behind the political crisis is fighting over who gets to control the billions in pandemic relief funds that hard-hit Italy is expected to receive from the European Union.
(PTI feed with minor edits)