March 5, 2021

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Italian PM Conte seeks to stay in power with Senate vote

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Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has made a second impassioned plea to lawmakers to support his government

ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte made a second impassioned plea to lawmakers on Tuesday to support his government, calling on them to repay the sacrifices of citizens during the pandemic by voting to back his government and overcome a political crisis provoked by a junior coalition partner.

“With today’s vote, I trust that the institutions will be able to repay the trust of citizens in order to put behind us this great act of irresponsibility as soon as possible,” Conte said.

Conte on Monday won what amounted to a confidence vote in the lower Chamber of Deputies, securing a 321-to-259 victory. The defecting Italia Viva (Italy Alive) party of ex-Premier Matteo Renzi abstained. The vote only gives him a slim majority in the lower house.

The Senate vote later Tuesday will be even tighter.

“Numbers are important, today even more so. But even more important is the quality of the political project,’’ Conte said. “We ask all the political forces to help us relaunch with the maximum speed and help us repair the damage to citizens’ trust that the crisis has produced.”

Every vote will count, and much speculation has focused on whether any of the opposition will break ranks and on the role of senators-for-life, many of whom are elderly.

In a sign of support, Liliana Segre, a Holocaust survivor who is a senator for life, made the trip from Milan to Rome to participate in the vote despite her advancing age and risk of exposure to the coronavirus. A representative said that Segre, who is 90, has not yet received a vaccine against the coronavirus.

Renzi forced the crisis last week by yanking his two ministers from the government, forcing Conte to try to scramble support from other parties or defectors from Renzi’s small centrist forces. In the end, Renzi’s Italia Viva deputies abstained from the Chamber vote and were expected to do the same in the Senate tally.

2021-01-19 06:11:21

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