Italian PM Draghi’s government in crisis over confidence voteon July 14, 2022 at 1:51 pm

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PM Mario Draghi’s government nears collapse after a populist coalition party withdraws support.

Italian president of the 5 Star Movement Giuseppe Conte guest at the television program Porta a Porta. In the background Mario Draghi. Rome (Italy), May 11th, 2022Image source, Getty Images

Italy’s government under Prime Minister Mario Draghi is close to collapse after populist coalition partner Five Star pulled out of a major confidence vote.

The ex-head of the European Central Bank has led a unity government since February 2021.

But Five Star leader Giuseppe Conte accused him of not doing enough to tackle the cost of living crisis.

Despite comfortably winning Thursday’s vote in the Senate, Mr Draghi’s political future is now in doubt.

The prime minister has insisted repeatedly that the government will not continue without Five Star. After the vote he immediately set off to see President Sergio Mattarella, who was expected to ask him to remain in office.

If the man dubbed “Super Mario” does decide to resign for lack of political support, Italians may be asked to go to the polls as early as this autumn.

Thursday’s vote was tied to a vote on a multi-billion package of economic aid for families and businesses.

The €23bn (£19.5bn) package cleared the lower house last week but Mr Conte has warned that Italy is facing a serious social crisis that will erupt in September: “We have to face the uncomfortable reality of our citizens.”

Right up to the vote, attempts were made to resolve the crisis. Milan’s stock market tumbled 3% as nervousness spread to investors.

“We are not taking part in the vote under this provision,” announced Five Star Senate leader Mariolina Castellone.

The populist party was initially the biggest in the coalition but has seen a string of defections. Its support has fallen over the last year and it is scrambling to regain ground.

Former party leader Luigi di Maio accused Five Star of a cynical plan to bring down the Draghi government to revive its own support, while dragging Italy to economic and social collapse.

The former ECB chief was appointed last year by President Sergio Mattarella to save Italy from its endemic instability and lead the post-pandemic recovery. But now Mr Draghi has been cornered by political turmoil in Italy’s fragmented parliament.

Elections are not due until next year, but parties across the political spectrum have the vote in their sights, especially on the right. Matteo Salvini of the far-right League and Giorgia Meloni of Brothers of Italy are competing for leadership of a potential right-wing coalition.

If the man dubbed “Super Mario” does decide to resign for lack of political support, Italians may be asked to go to the polls as early as this autumn.

European Union Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, who is himself a former Italian prime minister, said the EU’s executive was watching developments in Rome “with due detachment, but with worried astonishment”.

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