5-star will maintain support for Italy's unity govt - former PM Conte

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Italy's outgoing Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte walks past his companion Olivia Paladino as he leaves following a formal handover ceremony with incoming Prime Minister Mario Draghi at Palazzo Chigi in Rome

ROME (Reuters) -Italy's 5-Star Movement will maintain support for the national unity government led by Mario Draghi's despite the unpopularity of some of its decisions, former premier Giuseppe Conte, the most likely new leader of the party said on Monday.

"Some decisions (of the government) have displeased citizens and caused concern...We will be loyal and constructive without giving up our values and battles," Conte said in an interview with daily Corriere della Sera.

He added that he had talked with Prime Minister Draghi and would soon meet him.

5-Star took 32% of the vote at the last election in 2018 and is the largest party in parliament, but its popularity fell due to policy U-turns and internal feuding.

"This last period has not been good for the 5-Star Movement, but with the new leadership it will return to make its voice heard clearly and strongly and we will work, as always, for the good of the country," he added.

Conte, a technocrat who had previously refused any direct party affiliation, resigned as prime minister in January after his government fell victim to coalition infighting and soon after took on the task of reviving the fortunes of the 5-Star movement.

His election at the helm of the party is seen as a formality.

Late on Saturday Conte said 5-Star had resolved a long-running internal legal battle which would allow it to move forward with a vote for a new party leader.

The 56-year old lawyer said he has been drawing up a new statute for the movement and that 5-Star would now have a more international profile and try to develop broader appeal.

He said the party's membership would elect the new leader and, as before, an internet platform would be used to consult with members.

(Reporting by Giulia Segreti, editing by Gianluca Semeraro; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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