Fri Jan 15th, 2021 at 12:56:46 AM EST
A minor party has withdrawn from the Italian government, leaving it without a majority in the Senate and on the verge of collapse:
Italy has been plunged into chaos after former prime minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party from the country's ruling coalition in a largely unpopular move that could end in fresh elections.
The political meltdown, which leaves the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, without a parliamentary majority, comes at the worst possible time for Italy as it struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic and emerge from economic quagmire.
Renzi announced the resignation of his two ministers, Teresa Bellanova and Elena Bonetti, following weeks of clashes over a variety of issues including Italy's post-Covid economic recovery plan.
Conte could now either offer his resignation to the president, Sergio Mattarella, who could give him a mandate to try and forge a new alliance, or go to parliament for a vote of confidence.
The government would lose elections at the moment, and in any case holding them at the height of the pandemic seems... unwise. While Italy's case numbers have passed their second peak, daily case numbers are still three times higher than during the first wave, and deaths are only a little lower than the earlier peak. Traditional campaigning and in-person voting seem downright dangerous, and even is postal and advance voting is used, assembling poll workers to count the votes is asking them to risk infection and death. In these circumstances, you'd hope that Italy's opposition would provide confidence temporarily until things settle down and an election can be held safely, rather than win an election on a pile of corpses.