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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will resign on Tuesday and attempt to form a new governing coalition, a government spokesman announced.
Why it matters: Conte is easily Italy’s most popular leading politician, but he lacks a political party of his own and lost his governing majority in the Senate when a small party withdrew from the government. If he can’t cobble together a new coalition, Italy could face fresh elections.
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Background: Conte was an anonymous law professor until just 2½ years ago, when he became the compromise pick to lead a coalition of two populist parties, Five Star and the League.
He survived their divorce in 2019 to form a new government with Five Star and the center-left Democratic Party, and his stature grew during the pandemic as he ordered Europe’s first lockdown and lobbied for relief funds from the EU.
Conte’s approval rating has ranged between 55-66% over the last year, according to Morning Consult’s tracker, making him one of the EU’s most popular leaders.
But Italy’s fractious politics mean it’s no sure thing that he’ll be able to form a third government in three years. If he can't, the ensuing elections will be deeply unpredictable.
The big picture: Political instability is nothing new for Italy. The premiership changed hands 16 times in the 30 years before Conte took office.
Worth noting: The party that triggered the government’s collapse is led by Matteo Renzi, a former prime minister. He objects to Conte’s spending plan for the EU recovery funding.
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