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World

Nearly half of Italians want PM to stay: poll

  • Conte was also confirmed as the country's most popular politician, with 52 per cent of respondents expressing confidence in him.
28 Jan 2021

ROME: Some 45 per cent of Italians want Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to stay on, an opinion poll suggested Thursday, after his resignation plunged their virus-ravaged country into political crisis.

The IXE survey showed that 26 per cent favoured snap elections, while 11 per cent would like the outgoing centre-left coalition to return, but under another premier.

A further seven per cent 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 following a falling-out with a junior coalition partner that left him short of a majority in the Senate, the upper house of parliament.

President Sergio Mattarella has been engaged since Wednesday in talks with party leaders to seek a way out. They are scheduled to run until Friday.

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

The main parties behind the outgoing government -- the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) -- are ready to give Conte another chance.

But to keep his job, Conte either needs to make up with Matteo Renzi, an ex-premier who quit the ruling coalition earlier this month, or win over a few opposition senators.

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.

The IXE survey was based on phone interviews with 1,000 people during January 25-28, and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.