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Italy's political crisis

What we covered here

  • Conte is out: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has resigned.
  • Some background: The political crisis erupted earlier this month, when far-right party leader Matteo Salvini withdrew his support of Conte and called for new elections.
4:05 p.m. ET, August 20, 2019

What you need to know about Giuseppe Conte's resignation

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (R) gestures as he delivers a speech at the Italian Senate in Rome on Aug. 20, 2019. ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

Our live coverage of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's resignation has concluded. You can read more about it here.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Conte resigned: After senators debated for nearly four hours, Conte confirmed he planned to resign. He then visited Italy's President Sergio Mattarella at the presidential palace and officially resigned.
  • What Conte said: In an hour-long speech, Conte launched a scathing attack on far-right League party's leader Matteo Salvini, the country's Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, who is thought to be vying for his job.
  • Why is this happening? Earlier this month, Salvini pushed for new elections, saying that the government coalition between the hardline anti-immigrant League party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement no longer holds a majority in parliament. Conte said Salvini's demand for fresh elections — a mere 18 months after the last ones were held — was "irresponsible" and accused him of putting the national interest at risk in order to advance his own personal interests.
  • What happens next? Mattarella will first hold official meetings with Italy's former President Giorgio Napolitano, then with the speakers of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, and lastly with representatives of all the other political parties. 
3:38 p.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Italy's prime minister has resigned

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte arrives in his car at the Palazzo Quirinale in Rome as the country faces a political crisis on Aug. 20, 2019. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has officially resigned, according to Ugo Zampetti, spokesperson of the presidential palace.

Zampetti announced the resignation shortly after Conte arrived at the presidential palace.

Earlier, Conte, speaking before the Italian Senate, said he had planned to offer his resignation to Italy's President Sergio Mattarella.

2:40 p.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Giuseppe Conte says he'll offer his resignation to Italian President Sergio Mattarella

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte just confirmed that he will offer his resignation to Italy's President Sergio Mattarella.

Conte's announcement came at the end of his speech before the Italian Senate moments ago.

What happens next: Mattarella will meet the leaders of all political parties (this could be as early as tomorrow or it could be next week). If Mattarella foresees a new majority, he will appoint another prime minister. If not, he could ask Conte to remain head of the government until a snap election — probably in October. 
1:44 p.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Migrants on ship at center of Conte-Salvini riff ordered to disembark

An Italian court in Italy has seized the Open Arms rescue vessel and ordered that all the migrants on board to disembark, prosecutor Salvatore Vella told CNN on Tuesday.

According to Vella, the seizure of the ship became necessary after an inspection by medical personnel conducted earlier on Tuesday found that the hygienic and health conditions on board had deteriorated.

Why we're talking about this ship: A feud between Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who just announced he's resigning, and far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who called for new elections, has centered on the ship in recent days.
The Open Arms, a Spanish humanitarian ship, has been stranded off Italy for 19 days.

Salvini — who rose to power on anti-migrant sentiment — refused to allow Open Arms to dock, despite a court ruling that said the boat should be allowed to. Meanwhile, Conte demanded that Salvini "urgently adopt the necessary measures to ensure assistance and protection for minors present in the boat." 

1:04 p.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Italy's prime minister said he's going to resign. Here's what happens now.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte reacts after delivering a speech at the Italian Senate in Rome on Aug. 20, 2019. ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the Italian Senate this morning that he will resign.

Here's what to expect now:

  • Right now: The debate among senators will last three hours and 45 minutes — we're expecting that to wrap up around 2 p.m. ET. At the end of the debate, Conte will deliver his final remarks.
  • The official resignation offer: At the end of his remarks, he will go to the Quirinale Palace in Rome and offer his resignation to Italy's President Sergio Mattarella.
  • The President's next move: Mattarella will meet the leaders of all political parties (this could be as early as tomorrow or it could be next week). If Mattarella foresees a new majority, he will appoint another prime minister. If not, he could ask Conte to remain head of the government until a snap election — probably in October. 
11:44 a.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Italy's outgoing prime minister and the official who called for new elections have been feuding about a migrant ship

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who just announced he's resigning, and far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who called for new elections, have had a long-simmering rift.

The feud was blown wide open last week as the two engaged in a bitter political standoff over a ship full of migrants.

What you need to know about the ship: The Open Arms, a Spanish humanitarian ship, has been stranded off Italy for 19 days.
Where the Italian leaders stand: Salvini — who rose to power on anti-migrant sentiment — refused to allow Open Arms to dock, despite a court ruling that said the boat should be allowed to. Meanwhile Conte demanded that Salvini "urgently adopt the necessary measures to ensure assistance and protection for minors present in the boat."
Where things stand now: Salvini allowed 27 unaccompanied minors to disembark the ship — but insisted that that decision was “exclusively” the responsibility of Conte.
And what's happening with the ship? Spain said on Tuesday that it was dispatching a ship to collect migrants on the ship after at least 10 people jumped overboard in an attempt to swim ashore.
1:42 p.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Deputy prime minister says he's "not afraid of the judgment of Italians" in calling for new election

RISIS ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

Matteo Salvini, deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of the Interior, defended his actions as Interior Minister at a session at the Italian senate saying: "I will do what I did all over again." 

Talking about Europe and the relationship Italy has with the EU he highlighted: "I don't want Italy to be slave of anybody." Salvini also spoke about migrants and his immigration policy, clarifying "you reach Italy if you have a proper permission to enter."

He said other politicians in Italy might be afraid of calling for new election, but he wasn't: "I am a free man. I am not afraid of the judgment of Italians."

"In a democracy the main path is to ask permission to our employers, the Italian citizens," he added. 

Salvini took out a rosary in the middle of his speech and asked the Virgin Mary for protection, not for him but for Italians. "The emergency of this country is the demographic crisis and our budget law will need to have at least 50 billion euro to reduce taxes," he added. 

Looking to what comes next for Italian politics he told the senate "I want to offer to Italian a future of growth and prosperity" and added "If you want to complete the reforms that we started we [the League party] are here." 

10:50 a.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Conte was prime minister for about 14 months

TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images

Political novice Giuseppe Conte was sworn in as Prime Minister of Italy in June 2018 after the right-wing League and anti-establishment Five Star Movement reached a coalition agreement the previous night.

The two populist, euroskeptic parties secured the most votes in the March 2018 election. But voters did not return a majority to any single party, and neither politician would concede the top job to the other.

The appointment of Conte — a law professor with no political experience — came after weeks of political wrangling among the jigsaw of political parties returned by voters in March.

Conte's announced resignation today comes after the coalition fell apart this month over disagreements on key policies.

10:38 a.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Why Italy's Interior Minister wanted new elections

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (R) touches Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's shoulder as he delivers a speech at the Italian Senate, in Rome, on August 20, 2019, as the country faces a political crisis. ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

While offering to resign, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party, was "irresponsible" to start Italy's current political crisis.

Here's the backstory: Salvini, who also serves at Interior Minister, called for new elections earlier this month, saying the move was warranted because the current government coalition between the far-right League Party and the Five Star Movement no longer holds a majority in parliament.

Conte — a law professor with no previous political experience — became prime minister in June 2018, after the League and Five Star Movement reached a coalition agreement.

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