Italy President Taps House Speaker to Mend Coalition Rift

Italian President Sergio Mattarella asked the speaker of the lower house to lead a new round of negotiations aimed at breaking the country’s political deadlock.

The head of state tasked Speaker Roberto Fico with exploring whether it’s possible to rebuild the coalition that supported Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Italy President Taps House Speaker to Mend Coalition Rift

Three days of talks led by Mattarella, who’s responsible for picking a new premier-designate, failed to resolve the impasse after Matteo Renzi of the tiny Italy Alive party abandoned Conte’s administration on Jan. 13.

The outgoing premier remains a favorite to eventually lead a new government, after the Five Star Movement, the biggest party in parliament, lobbied for his return during its meeting with Mattarella earlier Friday.

Mattarella set Fico a Tuesday deadline to report back to him. Five Star, of which Fico is a member, signaled it’s willing to patch up the alliance with ex-premier Renzi, after having previously vowed never to work with him again.

Palace Talks

The talks at the presidential palace in Rome saw leaders of parties large and small express dismay at the timing of the political turmoil, with Italy battling the coronavirus pandemic and a recession while debating how to manage its share of the European Union’s recovery package.

If Mattarella does eventually decide to grant Conte a new opportunity to put together a majority, the premier will seek to repair relations with Renzi and Italy Alive, while continuing his search for pro-European, centrist and unaffiliated lawmakers, especially in the Senate.

Italy President Taps House Speaker to Mend Coalition Rift

Fico faces an uphill task. Five Star’s change of tack on Renzi has rocked the party, with leading figure Alessandro Di Battista threatening to abandon the party rather than renewing ties with Renzi, who he called “a professional stabber.”

About a dozen senators could follow Di Battista out of the party, jeopardizing a new Conte parliamentary base.

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