- Title: Italian Senate prepares for budget vote as lawmakers push for early election
- Date: 7th December 2016
- Summary: 'IL MANIFESTO' NEWSPAPER HEADLINE READING (Italian): "MATTEO DA LEGARE" (A PLAY ON WORDS MEANING "MATTEO BARKING MAD")
- Embargoed: 22nd December 2016 11:05
- Keywords: Italy budget Senate upper house Matteo Renzi resignation
- Location: ROME, ITALY
- City: ROME, ITALY
- Country: Italy
- Reuters ID: LVA0025BVWSP3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Italian lawmakers urged institutions on Wednesday (December 7) to speed up the process leading to a new election after Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi vowed to resign following his pummelling loss in a national referendum last week.
The Italian upper house is expected to vote on the 2017 budget on Wednesday, paving the way for Renzi to tender his resignation on Friday (December 9), according to parliamentary sources.
The 41-year-old premier announced his resignation in the early hours of Monday (December 5) after the referendum results became clear, but Italian President Sergio Mattarella, whose powers include naming prime ministers and dissolving parliament, asked him to stay on until the 2017 budget was approved.
The reason Renzi's resignation was delayed until Friday was unclear, but Mattarella wants parliament to draft a new electoral law before any ballot is held, a source close to the president said on Tuesday (December 6), a move likely to push back any vote until spring.
Senators arriving ahead of the vote urged their fellow lawmakers to overcome the current government crisis smoothly in order to lead the country towards an election as quickly as possible.
"The Italian people need change and they need to go the polls and finally have a say on policies," said Alberto Airola, senator for the 5-Star movement.
Senator Stefano Candiani compared Renzi to the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner, Francesco Schettino, who was commanding the ship when it hit rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio in 2012.
"Renzi has had to abandon the ship a bit like Schettino without leading it back to the port," he said ahead of the upper house vote.
"We hope to have elections quickly so that people will have the chance to choose a majority that is able to form a government that is finally legitimately elected by them," he added.
Though the next parliamentary election is not scheduled until 2018, there was growing consensus among party leaders for it to be held a year earlier. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said earlier that the vote should be held in February.
Meanwhile, two sources told Reuters on Tuesday that the government was preparing to take a 2-billion-euro controlling stake in struggling Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy's third-biggest bank, by purchasing junior bonds.
That plan may require a government decree to authorise the deal, the sources said. Earlier on Wednesday, a Treasury spokesman denied Italy was poised to ask for a loan from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to support its banking sector, including Monte dei Paschi.
Later on Wednesday, the top brass in Renzi's Democratic Party (PD) will meet to hammer out strategy. Renzi is still leader of the PD, which has the largest number of parliamentarians, so it is unlikely any new government could be formed without his backing.
The PD will support a government of national unity, which would have to include parties that had been in opposition, two party sources said on Tuesday. If such a government is not possible, then the PD wants an early election, they said.
Infrastructure Minister Graziano Delrio, a PD member and close ally of Renzi's, said on television on Tuesday the best solution would be for an interim government to be put in place to quickly change the electoral law so an election could be held "in the spring".
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