Rezni gives Conte fresh ultimatum

'Agree to 4 policy demands or IV will leave govt' says ex-PM

(ANSA) - Rome, February 21 - Centrist Italia Viva (IV) leader Matteo Renzi on Friday issued a fresh ultimatum to Premier Giuseppe Conte saying he must accept four policy demands at a meeting next week or see IV quit the government.
    Renzi said the four conditions are: 'a just justice'; changing the rules to allow the direct election of the premier by the Italian people, the so-called 'mayor of Italy'; eliminating or modifying the basic income; and unblocking stalled construction projects. Conte has already rejected most of these proposals, especially the mayor of Italy idea and the justice demand centering on a repeal of a recent statute of limitations reform.
    As things stand, Renzi is still set to file a no-confidence motion in Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede, the architect of the reform.
    Unlike the other parties supporting the government, IV is opposed the "lodo Conte bis", a compromise on the statute of limitations proposed by Conte after Renzi's group staunchly opposed Bonafede's reform that puts the statute of limitations on ice after a first-instance court ruling.
    The aim is to stop offenders getting off thanks to their lawyers' ability to draw out proceedings until the statute of limitations kicks in.
    Renzi argues there is a risk of people getting embroiled in never-ending trials and the slow pace of Italy's justice system getting worse.
    The reform has also come under fire from judges and criminal lawyers, as well as opposition parties.
    Conte's compromise would see the statute of limitations put on ice when a first-instance conviction is upheld at the appeals level.
    In Italy's three-tier justice system, convictions are not considered definitive until the appeals process has been exhausted.
    Renzi's demand on changing the basic income is also unlikely to be met, as the policy is a flagship issue for the M5S, who are in government with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the party former premier Renzi once led, as well as the small leftwing Free and Equal (LeU) party.
    Conte on Thursday said he was ready to listen to Renzi but the government should focus on growth and implementing its 2023 agenda.
    He said parliament was the proper forum to debate policy.
    Renzi has said he is not scared of IV being replaced by so-called 'responsible' Senators from other centrist or centre-right parties such as Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia (FI).
    On Friday Renzi also said that he had no problem with Conte being premier, per se.
    "Government is not a personal issue," he said, "but a turnaround is needed".
    He also said that staying inside the government or leaving was a "question of content".