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Home World News Washington Post World News Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi says he will resign, government threatens to...

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi says he will resign, government threatens to collapse



ROME — For the past 17 months, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has served as a rare unifying force in Italian politics. But that period came to an end on Thursday, when Draghi said he would resign after a break in his unity government.

“The trust pact on which this government’s action is based has been undone,” Draghi’s office said in a statement. The statement said the conditions to implement the government’s priorities “no longer exist”.

The swift demise was brought on by a move earlier in the day when senators from one of the largest parties in Draghi’s coalition – the Five Star Movement – abstained from a no-confidence vote.

The Five Stars — a former populist party that has lost most of its support — opted for the boycott, ostensibly over a series of grievances with Draghi and because of a bill linked to the confidence vote. The bill, designed to help businesses and households with high energy prices, also included provision for a waste incinerator in Rome, a project the Five Stars oppose.

Italy needs a new president and a stable government. Mario Draghi cannot be the answer to both.

Draghi had made it clear that he would interpret a strike as a vote against the unity government he leads and that he would feel obliged to reconsider his mandate and possibly tender his resignation. The Five Stars continued anyway.

As a result, at a time of inflation, record-breaking drought and war in Europe, the Italian government has disintegrated over an incinerator.

“Absurd,” said Roberto D’Alimonte, professor of political science at Luiss Guido Carli University.

What comes next takes some guesswork.

Draghi met on Thursday afternoon with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who was able to convince Draghi and the parties to put things back in order with yet another confidence vote – this vote was tied solely to the existence of the government, and has nothing to do with it. to do with a bill. Mattarella, a respected former constitutional court judge, has proved adept at instilling a sense of national responsibility over the years, and there are clear reasons why Italy would benefit from keeping its government intact for a while longer. In the fall, it has a budget to pass on. And it must implement reforms to receive its windfall from the European Pandemic Recovery Fund.

Mattarella could also, in theory, persuade Draghi to continue as prime minister in a new government without the Five Stars, in what would be a smaller majority. But Draghi, who was chosen by Mattarella in February 2021 to lead a unity coalition, has indicated that he does not want to play a part in such a scenario.

“There is no government without the Five Stars,” Draghi said earlier this week, adding that he would not lead a coalition with an alternative composition.

That leaves open the possibility of early elections.

Many analysts say such a move would be embarrassing for Italy, given the emergencies facing Europe. Among investors, Draghi is seen as a guarantor of stability in one of the world’s most indebted economies. And in Brussels, where he is widely respected for his past work to save the eurozone as Europe’s top central banker, Draghi has given Italy a degree of political clout it rarely enjoys. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he has strongly supported sanctions against Russia and helped Italy find alternative energy sources.

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But some of the same Italian parties that have supported Draghi now have reasons to favor elections, if given the choice. Center-right and far-right parties are confident they can win every vote in the coming months. The Five Stars’ move gives them such an opportunity without looking like they were the beginning of the government’s disintegration.

“The current situation cannot continue,” said Lorenzo Fontana, a deputy leader of the Nationalist League. “Clearly there is no fear for us to leave the last word to Italians.”

Despite all the five-star resistance to the incinerator, other politicians have called it a solution to an urgent – and rotten – problem in the capital. Rome has become synonymous in recent years with haphazard garbage collection, overflowing dumpsters and seagulls diving in to feast on the trash. The waste disposal problem was exacerbated by a fire at a processing facility that created a black cloud with a stench that spread for miles.

The waste problem has plagued Rome’s mayors, including current center-left leader Roberto Gualtieri, who in an interview with Il Tempo, a local newspaper, described “dirty streets, decay and high cost of a malfunctioning system” and promised that by 2025 a new high-tech waste-to-energy plant will be ready.

Italy is known for its tumultuous politics, but the latest turbulence has taken the country by storm just before the political class leaves for their summer vacation. The source of the uproar, the Five Star Movement, is fighting for its political future and struggling to figure out how to do it.

Can a party founded by a comedian rule a major European country? Italy may soon find out.

Just a few years ago, the Five Star Movement was Italy’s most popular party – an anti-establishment group of populists, made up of ideas from the left and right, that promised a radical form of democracy, including internet voting among party supporters. But the movement has proven to be more effective at agitating from the outside than at governing.

As part of several Italian coalitions over the past four years, it has been zigzagging on issues such as immigration and the European Union. The party recently fell apart when Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio fired about a third of the Five Star MPs, who were divided over arms shipments to Ukraine. The remaining five-star members are led by Giuseppe Conte, a former Italian prime minister and law professor, who presented Draghi with a nine-point list of the party’s proposals earlier this month.

“A government will not be able to work with an ultimatum,” Draghi said in response.

There is a history between Draghi and Conte, who had been Italy’s leader during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and who made the difficult – but ultimately life-saving – decision to call for a nationwide lockdown at a time when such movements were unprecedented in a modern democracy. But in early 2021, Conte was pushed out as part of a battle within his own coalition, just as Italy tried to ramp up its coronavirus vaccination campaign. At the time, Mattarella said it was time for a government that could tackle “the major emergencies.”

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