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Why Italy's third COVID lockdown is different

A year ago, a horrific series of photos of overflowing hospitals in Italy's Lombardy region made many Americans realize that this pandemic was going to have devastating results. And now, over 100,000 deaths later, Italy is entering its third lockdown. But this time is different, says former Prime Minister Enrico Letta, because now a lockdown doesn't mean a total economic shutdown. And there's hope on the horizon, as long as the country can get its act together on the vaccines front.

Letta's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of a new episode of GZERO World, which began airing on US public television stations nationwide on Friday, March 26. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Why did Italy's PM resign in the middle of a crisis?

When Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned Tuesday — plunging the country into chaos as it faces once-in-a-generation public health and economic crises — he became the fourteenth Italian to vacate the prime ministership in three decades. (For contrast, Germany has only had three chancellors since 1982, and France has had five presidents.)

But Conte, who had no previous political experience until he was tapped for the top job in 2018, is not so much throwing in the towel as he is taking a massive gamble that President Sergio Mattarella will again appoint him to head Conte's third coalition government in less than three years.

The recent dysfunction is unique even within the context of instability-prone Italian politics. How did Italy get here, and what might come next?

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