Italy's Conte denies he is putting together a new coalition

FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte addresses the upper house of parliament over the ongoing government crisis, in Rome

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte denied on Sunday he was looking to put together a new coalition after relations with the small Italia Viva party disintegrated.

Former prime minister Matteo Renzi, who heads Italia Viva, challenged Conte last week to put together another government if he could following a row over legal reform.

Conte saw the Italian head of state at the weekend amid speculation that he was seeking to poach senators from Renzi’s party to keep his administration afloat in parliament.

However, his office denied widespread media reports that he was looking for other majorities and played a conciliatory tone.

"Conte is working on the government's 2023 agenda along with all the ruling parties, including Italia Viva," Conte's office said in a statement released on Sunday.

While the row between Renzi and Conte seems unlikely to trigger a political crisis any time soon, it underscores the difficulties the prime minister has in keeping a stable coalition after his first government made up of the 5-Star and the right-wing League party collapsed in August.

"Renzi's behavior poses serious problems because it make Conte unstable and the government action insufficient," said prominent PD member Goffredo Bettini on Sunday.

"This is why I recommend preparing alternative scenarios as soon as possible," Bettini added on Facebook.


(Reporting by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Toby Chopra)