Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced his resignation on Tuesday, after the withdrawal of support from anti-immigration party The League. He may have spoken too soon.
The coalition government formed by the nationalist economic reform party, Five Star, and The League may be supplanted by a coalition government created from Five Star and Italy’s Democratic Party. That group, known by the shorthand of “PD”, is center-left in its economic policies like Five Star but is strongly attached to the EU. Any new coalition government would likely ease off of the nationalistic sentiments which have dominated Italian politics of the Conte era.
The sticking point for any new coalition government comes in the form of the leadership. PD leader Nicola Zingaretti has repeatedly said that change would be needed from the prior government. As the Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, would be removed from office in any such arrangement, the obvious implication is that Conte would need to go as well.
A few hours ago, that changed.
Asked about the potential for Conte to stay in the leadership position, the Senate Whip for PD, Andrea Marcucci, changed the dynamic of the discussion with her response.
“There are no vetoes, we’re talking about content”, said Marcucci.Ansa
This shift in position greatly increases the chance that a coalition government will be formed. The parties have been given until Tuesday to form a new government, or new elections will be called. That was the decision by the Italian President, whose role provides little authority over national policy but who officially recognizes governments and can arrange elections.
There are reports that Conte may be agreed upon as the Prime Minister – something that Five Star demands – if the Five Star leader and current Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio steps down. Di Maio, who has not seemed as comfortable in his role as was the flashy Salvini, may agree to that offer.
The possibility is believable enough that Salvini’s League is now reversing course and making entreaties to Di Maio about possibly re-joining with them and going back to the prior arrangement. This is because, if Five Star and PD make their coalition, Salvini, who was banking on becoming the new Prime Minister and enacting an aggressively anti-EU government under the auspices of anti-immigrant policies, will be frozen out of any notable government influence.
The next 40 hours will likely determine whether Salvini’s gambit has been successful.
If Prime Minister Conte does remain in power, his policies are likely to shift fairly dramatically as he leads the new coalition. Most notable for America, the Deputy Minister who was tied to Steve Bannon and Russian influence will be out, with a pro-EU Deputy Minister in place. This will pressure the PM to shift his positions on Trump policies and lose the US President one of his rare allies in the EU.