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POLITICS

Nearly half of all Italian voters want Giuseppe Conte to remain PM, poll finds

Some 45 per cent of Italian voters want Giuseppe Conte to stay on as prime minister, an opinion poll suggested Thursday, after his resignation deepened the country's political crisis.

Nearly half of all Italian voters want Giuseppe Conte to remain PM, poll finds
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The IXE survey showed that 26 percent favoured new elections, while 11 percent would like the coalition government to stay in place, but under another prime minister.

EXPLAINED: Why has Italy's prime minister resigned and what happens now?

A further seven percent of respondents said they would rather have a new centre-right coalition in power, while 11 per cent of those polled had no opinion.

Conte was also confirmed as the country's most popular politician, with 52 per cent of respondents expressing confidence in him.

The prime minister resigned on Tuesday after former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his small Italia Viva party from the coalition government, leaving it short of a majority in the Senate.

Since Wednesday, President Sergio Mattarella has been in talks with party leaders to seek a way out.

Talks are scheduled to run until Friday.

Talks on saving the government are being held at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome. Photo: AFP

The main parties behind the outgoing government – the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) – have thrown their support behind Conte.

Conte hopes Mattarella will ask him to form a new government, but this depends on whether he can assemble a new ruling coalition.

PROFILE: Italy's Giuseppe Conte, from 'populist puppet' to political survivor

But to keep his job, Conte either needs to make up with Renzi or win over a few opposition senators to get his majority back.

The crisis has left Italy rudderless in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic that has claimed almost 87,000 lives and caused an unprecedented recession.

Gregorio De Falco, an independent senator who has offered to support a new Conte-led cabinet, stressed the urgency of ending the political stalemate.

“The country is going through a very dangerous health emergency and a devastating economic crisis. We need to act quickly,” he said after meeting Mattarella.

The head of state was due to meet the main players of the political crisis, including the M5S, the PD, Renzi and the centre-right opposition parties, on Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Conte gave witness testimony in a case against anti-immigration League party leader Matteo Salvini, who is accused of illegally detaining migrants at sea while interior minister.

Despite the ongoing political crisis, Conte appeared before a judge seeking to decide whether Salvini, who is no longer in government, should face trial.

Member comments

  1. Salvini to face trail ,pmsl you just could not make this stuff up. Have these idiots got nothing better to do apart from waste money?

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POLITICS

Second Italian minister takes anti-mafia reporter Saviano to court

Just weeks after going on trial in a case brought by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Italian investigative journalist Roberto Saviano was back in court on Wednesday facing allegations of defamation lodged by Meloni's deputy, Matteo Salvini.

Second Italian minister takes anti-mafia reporter Saviano to court

Deputy Prime Minister Salvini, whose far-right League party is a key member of Meloni’s coalition, is suing the journalist for calling him the “minister of the criminal underworld” in a social media post in 2018.

In November, Saviano went on trial in a case brought by Meloni for calling her a “bastard” in 2020 over her attitude towards vulnerable migrants.

READ ALSO: Press freedom fears as Italian PM Meloni takes Saviano to trial

Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party was in opposition at the time, but won September elections on a promise to curb mass migration.

Saviano, known for his international mafia bestseller “Gomorrah”, regularly clashes with Italy’s far-right and says the trials are an attempt to intimidate him.

He faces up to three years in prison if convicted in either trial.

“I think it is the only case in Western democracies where the executive asks the judiciary to lay down the boundaries within which it is possible to criticise it,” Saviano said in a declaration in court on Wednesday.

He said he was “blatantly the victim of intimidation by lawsuit”, on trial “for making my opinion, my thoughts, public”.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about press freedom in Italy

Press freedom watchdogs and supporters of Saviano have called for the suits to be scrapped. Meloni refused in November, despite criticism that her position of power makes it an unfair trial.

Armed guard

Saviano has lived under police protection since revealing the secrets of the Naples mafia in 2006.

But when Salvini was appointed interior minister in a previous government in June 2018, he suggested he might scrap Saviano’s armed guard.

The writer reacted on Facebook, saying Salvini “can be defined ‘the minister of the criminal underworld’,” an expression he said was coined by anti-fascist politician Gaetano Salvemini to describe a political system which exploited voters in Italy’s poorer South.

READ ALSO: Anti-mafia author Saviano won’t be ‘intimidated’ by Salvini

He accused Salvini of having profited from votes in Calabria to get elected senator, while failing to denounce the region’s powerful ‘Ndrangheta mafia and focusing instead on seasonal migrants.

Salvini’s team are expected to reject any claim he is soft on the mafia.

Saviano’s lawyer said he will call as a witness the current interior minister Matteo Piantedosi, who at the time was in charge of evaluating the journalist’s police protection.

The next hearing was set for June 1st.

Watchdogs have warned of the widespread use in Italy of SLAPPS, lawsuits aimed at silencing journalists or whistleblowers.

Defamation through the media can be punished in Italy with prison sentences from six months to three years, but the country’s highest court has urged lawmakers to rewrite the law, saying jail time for such cases was unconstitutional.

Saviano is also being sued by Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano in a civil defamation case brought in 2020, before Sangiuliano joined the cabinet.

A ruling in that case could come in the autumn. If he loses that case Saviano may have to pay up to 50,000 euros in compensation, his lawyer told AFP.

Italy ranked 58th in the 2022 world press freedom index published by Reporters Without Borders, one of the lowest positions in western Europe.

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