Italian Prime Minister LEAVES after fall of coalition government
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will resign today after a party in his coalition government failed to take part in a vote of confidence, plunging the country into political crisis.
It will be up to President Sergio Mattarella to accept or reject Draghi’s resignation, but if the government crisis cannot be resolved quickly, Mattarella could unplug parliament – setting the stage for an election as early as September.
“I will submit my resignation to the president of the republic tonight,” Draghi told the cabinet, according to a statement released by his office. “The national unity coalition that supported this government no longer exists.”
Draghi won the vote of confidence in the Senate, but his pandemic unity government collapsed after the 5-Star Populist Movement boycotted the vote.
The vote was 172 to 39 on a relief bill to help Italians facing soaring energy costs, but 5-star senators were absent after confirming they would not participate.
Draghi then met with Mattarella to decide on next steps, with the announcement of his resignation coming after the meeting.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi resigned today after the fall of his coalition government
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrives by car at the presidential palace where he will hand in his resignation to Italian President Sergio Mattarella, in Rome, Italy, July 14, 2022
Draghi was appointed Prime Minister in February 2021 by Mattarella and tasked with carrying out key reforms required as part of the EU’s largest tranche of post-pandemic recovery funds – a package of around €200 billion. euros for Italy.
The government has since found itself embroiled in the war in Ukraine, taking a tough pro-European line, while battling runaway inflation at home.
The prime minister has repeatedly said populists were among the coalition partners who signed up to be part of his government last year and that he would not go on without them.
The president could ask Draghi to appear before parliament in the coming days to seek a formal vote on the government itself, to see if the ranks of bickering allies would rally around him.
The vote of confidence had become a focal point of tensions within Draghi’s government as his parties prepared to do battle in a national election scheduled for early 2023.
The 5-Star party’s decision to boycott the confidence vote had plunged Italy into political uncertainty and risked undermining efforts to secure billions of euros in European Union funds, tackle a devastating drought and to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
Draghi upped the ante by saying he wouldn’t want to lead a government without 5 stars, which emerged as the largest party in previous elections in 2018 but has since suffered defections and a loss of public support.
It could lead to national elections as early as September or October after other coalition parties said there should be a vote if 5-Star no longer supports the government.
Senators from the 5 Star Movement were absent for the vote of confidence in the Upper House on the government’s aid decree for the cost of living crisis, in Rome, Italy, July 14, 202
Mattarella had tapped the former head of the European Central Bank – who was known as ‘Super Mario’ for his ‘no matter what’ bailout of the euro – to pull Italy out of the pandemic of coronavirus and lay the groundwork for using billions in the European Union pandemic recovery fund.
The 5 stars had joined Draghi’s broad national unity coalition, which included right-wing and left-wing parties.
But the 5 stars, who have lost significant support in recent years, complain that their interests have been ignored. In the measure voted on Thursday, the 5-stars opposed a provision allowing Rome to operate a rubbish incinerator on the outskirts of the chronically garbage-choked Italian capital.
This article was just part of a bill that cut gasoline and diesel fuel taxes, as well as extending utility bill relief to beleaguered Italians, but the leader 5 star and former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte cited the provision when announcing late Wednesday that his lawmakers would boycott the vote.
During Thursday’s debate, several senators lambasted Conte’s decision.
Pictured: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi (right) holds the cabinet bell next to outgoing Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, during the handover ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office in Palazzo Chigi, Rome, Italy, on February 13, 2021 (file photo)
Being part of a government is not like picking a menu and deciding, antipasti, no, gelato, yes? said Emma Bonino, who leads a small pro-European party.
Others noted that Draghi had increasingly become a pivotal figure in Europe as Russia waged war on Ukraine, especially with the imminent departure of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
An ally of center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, argued in the Senate that a collapse of Draghi’s government could trigger “the destabilization of Europe”.
“You would be doing (Russian President Vladimir) Putin a favor,” thundered Senator Antonio Saccone.
Draghi ruled with the support of virtually all major Italian parties, except for the rising far-right Italian Brotherhood party, which demanded that Mattarella unplug parliament and give Italians a chance to vote for new leaders. .
But Giovanni Orsina, professor of history and director of the school of government at LUISS University in Rome, said Mattarella would like to avoid calling a snap election and will likely ask Draghi to go to parliament to see if he can obtain a new viable majority.
“We have the pandemic, we have the war, we have the inflation, we have the energy crisis. So it is definitely not the right time,” Orsina said. “And also because Mattarella rightly believes , that its mission is to safeguard stability.”
One of Draghi’s achievements has been to keep Italy on track with the reforms the EU forced on the country to receive 200 billion euros (dollars) in recovery aid in case of pandemic. Much of this EU funding is already allocated and subject to automatic mechanisms, suggesting that funding will not be lost even in a context of government instability.
“But of course the fact that Draghi with his prestige, his international prestige, is not behind this, is going to have benevolent consequences,” Orsina said.