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ITALY: Confusion and posturing dominate while PM plays for time

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As expected, Matteo Renzi has withdrawn Italia Viva (IV)'s cabinet members from Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's government, bringing it toward the verge of collapse. Renzi's long telegraphed move triggered a political crisis, which could last days or even a few weeks, has no clear solution in sight. While Conte has already accepted the resignation of IV's cabinet members, his next move remains unclear.

While IV has left open the door to returning to the fold so long as a new policy pact could be worked out, it is doubtful that Renzi and Conte could work together again. In yesterday's press conference, Renzi severely criticized and, at times ridiculed, the PM. Renzi likened Conte's governing style to a “reality show” and accused him of hoarding power.

The two main parties in the current ruling coalition – the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the Democratic Party (PD) – have quickly thrown their support behind Conte and strongly criticized Renzi for his “irresponsible” decision. In turn, Conte has said nothing in public since Renzi quit and appears in no hurry to resolve the crisis.

Leaving aside the pressure that could come from President Sergio Mattarella and the opposition, Conte could take some time to ponder about his move while trying to find enough lawmakers (especially in the Senate) from other parties to fill the gap left by Renzi's party. In this regard, the (hardly credible) warnings about early elections made earlier today by PD officials suggest that such a target is still distant. Raising the specter of snap polls was likely aimed at creating additional pressure on lawmakers from the so-called “mixed group” and independents who could provide the required votes for Conte to battle on.

Conte is now expected to address parliament over the collapse of his majority next week (probably on 18 and 19 January). However, it is unclear whether a vote will take place after his speech. Meanwhile, the government is expected to approve later today a new budget deviation (worth around EUR 25-30bn) required for a stimulus package that should be unveiled later this month.

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ITALY: Confusion and posturing dominate while PM plays for time

As expected, Matteo Renzi has withdrawn Italia Viva (IV)’s cabinet members from Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government, bringing it toward the verge of collapse.