Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte Resigned Amid the Raging Pandemic and Political Crisis.


Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri

Everly Isayan

After weeks of political chaos, Prime Minister Conte’s resignation was abrupt, further backing a sense of unpredictability already acknowledged by Italian citizens. Italy has faced extreme hardships as the pandemic has continued to wildly spread throughout the country, and the distribution of vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNtech, which were supposed to have already been distributed, have been delayed.

“At the current pace, it would take almost five years to vaccinate the majority of Italians,” according to Elisabetta Povoledo of the New York Times.

Italians have seen 85,000 deaths due to the pandemic, so the political chaos has added to this load of grief felt by the citizens. Two weeks prior to his resignation, Conte lost the support from former Prime Minister Mateo Rezi’s political party, “Italia Viva”, that he desperately needed to back his government. Renzi was critical of Conte’s plans for spending €200 billion of Italy’s share in the EU fund for post-pandemic recovery, according to Elisabetta Povoledo of the New York Times.

This devastating loss left Conte at a scarcity of political support and led to his loss of the absolute senate majority. Last week, Renzi forced Italy into an extreme political crisis, threatening to extract his minuscule yet important support from the government, out of motives still unsure to the public. Assumptions about his motives have differed, ranging from conspiracies like greed and revenge to national interest. Justifying his case on the Senate floor following this announcement, Renzi claimed that the reasoning for his abrupt withdrawal was due to the incompetent government.

Conte’s political stance in general and the reason for his past support was due to the help of Renzi, but Renzi’s actions last week in the Senate have further proved that the same support which he can provide, he can just as easily withdraw.

Even powerful commissioners do not wish to conceal their worry for the future of Italy’s government. According to Hannah Roberts of Politico, at an event in Belgium European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni stated, “We need a government capable of guaranteeing that the crisis doesn’t become a social and financial crisis, who knows how to make sure that the recovery plan is of quality and confirms Italy’s pro-European choices. But instead, we are in uncertainty.”

At this time of political upheaval in Italy, many rally in support of Conte, who is a political centrist, in hopes that he will return to his position as Prime Minister. It is possible President Sergio Mattarella will ask Conte to form a new coalition in the near future which could ultimately meet the demands of the citizens while successfully diminishing the chaos COVID-19 has brought about elections.