Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte quits amid pandemic criticism

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has resigned heightening political turmoil in the country as it battles Covid-19.

Parties are divided over spending in the coronavirus crisis, in which more than 85,000 Italians have died.

The resignation is a calculated move that could ultimately afford him another chance at forming a government.

Conte survived two confidence votes in Parliament last week. But he lost his governing majority in the Senate after his predecessor, Matteo Renzi, decided to withdraw the small Italia Viva party from Conte’s ruling coalition over frustrations with the government’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic and spending of $254 billion of EU recovery funds.

President Mattarella can choose whether to accept Conte’s resignation, and is likely to invite him to try to build a new governing majority. If Conte receives the mandate to form a new majority, he would need to add five more senators to his existing coalition.

President Mattarella is expected to spend two days in talks with party leaders, as it is up to the president to decide the next move.

Italy, now mired in recession, was at the epicentre of the pandemic in Europe last year.