Rome, Jan 13 (AFP/APP): Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Wednesday he was working flat-out to resolve tensions within his coalition, warning voters would not forgive a crisis in the middle of a pandemic.
The government is on the brink of imploding following weeks of internal criticism from former premier Matteo Renzi, the leader of the small but pivotal Italia Viva party.
Ahead of a press conference in which Renzi was widely expected to announce his withdrawal from the coalition, Conte appealed to him to change his mind. “I hope it won’t come to that,” he told reporters in Rome, saying he was working to keep the government together until the next scheduled elections in 2023.
He added: “For sure, the country would definitely not understand a crisis … people are asking us to go on, in such a complex, difficult situation.” Italy was the first European country to be overwhelmed by coronavirus cases and remains one of the worst-hit, with almost 80,000 virus deaths and a record recession.
Conte was speaking after a meeting with President Sergio Mattarella, the ultimate arbiter of Italian political crises, to discuss the situation. He said he would invite coalition parties to discuss a new pact, adding: “I will work until the last day, until the last hour, always to strengthen the cohesion of the ruling coalition.”
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