Italy heads to early elections after Draghi alliance fails

Rome (AFP) – Italy is heading for snap elections after its president accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday and decided there was no possibility to form another government after the rapid collapse of the ruling coalition.

The demise of Draghi’s alliance in the eurozone’s third-largest economy and uncertainty over what Italian voters will decide in the elections have dealt a destabilizing blow to the country and Europe amid rising inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

President Sergio Mattarella said in a brief speech at the Quirinale Presidential Palace, where Draghi submitted his resignation hours earlier.

Mattarella’s office said the elections would be held on September 25.

He appealed to political parties in their campaign to keep in mind the “higher interests” of the nation. Citing rising food and energy prices, he noted that those who suffer the most are always the weakest in society.

“The period we are going through does not allow any pause in identifying interventions to compare the economic and social crisis, and in particular the increase in inflation, which leads to disastrous consequences for families and businesses,” he said.

Draghi has been operating at Mattarella’s behest in a temporary role, ensuring that the government can implement essential measures in the months before a new coalition is formed.

But with Italy’s often feuding political parties, it could be weeks after that before a new government is formed. After the 2018 elections to Parliament, it took 90 days before the new government was sworn in.

Parliament’s five-year term was due to expire in March 2023, so the elections would take place just six months early.

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Mattarella pointed to the bad timing for the nation and the continent. But he said he had no choice yet on Wednesday evening, when three major parties in Draghi’s “unity” coalition refused to renew support in a confidence vote.

“The debate, the vote, and the ways in which this vote was expressed yesterday in the Senate made it clear that parliamentary support for the government has been missed and the possibility of giving life to a new majority” in Parliament, the president said. .

Mattarella had rejected a similar offer of resignation From my bike a week ago.

Instability in Italy could spread across EuropeThey also face economic problems. Draghi has taken the status of a statesman at a time when the European Union has struggled to maintain a united front against Russia, whose natural gas is heavily imported by Italy and other countries.

Draghi encouraged the interim cabinet to keep its focus on Italy’s pressing problems.

“Italy has everything (it needs) to be strong, reliable and credible” in the world, said Draghi. He said the government had to deal with the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation and energy costs as well as move forward with needed economic reforms.

In the meantime, “Let’s get back to work,” he added.

The former European Central Bank chief was chosen by Mattarella 17 months ago to guide Italy’s recovery after its economy was hit by COVID-19.

But this week, his coalition was sabotaged by the center-right Forza Italia led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and two larger parties, the right-wing Matteo Salvini League and the populist 5-Star Movement led by Draghi’s predecessor in the premiership, Giuseppe Conte. .

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In a brief speech to the House of Representatives on Thursday before renewing his resignation offer, Draghi appeared moved by the applause from lawmakers there, joking that even central bank chiefs have hearts.

Dubbed “Super Mario” for helping him pull the eurozone out of its debt crisis when he led the European Central Bank, Draghi has played a similar calming role in Italy in recent months. His presence has helped reassure financial markets about the public finances of the indebted state, and has managed to keep the country on the right track of the economic reforms that the European Union has put in place as a condition of the €200 billion (dollar) pandemic recovery package.

He was a staunch supporter of Ukraine, even when the leaders of the 5-Star and the League, two forces favorable to Russia for a long time, seemed reluctant to support them in supplying Kyiv with weapons. Draghi became a leading voice in Europe’s response to the Russian invasion on February 24.

The image of Draghi, speaking with the leaders of France and Germany on a train to Kyiv, quickly became the avatar of Italy as one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters. He had lobbied for the country’s candidacy for EU membership.

While he couldn’t keep his divided coalition together, Draghi still appeared to have broad support among Italians, many of whom have taken to the streets or signed open letters in recent weeks to plead with him to stay.

Nicola Nobile, associate director at Oxford Economics, warned that Draghi’s departure and the wait for a new government could exacerbate economic turmoil in Italy, which investors fear is carrying too much debt and which was already eyeing a marked slowdown in the second half of the year. general.

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Opinion polls have indicated that the center-left Democratic Party and the right-wing Brothers of Italy party, which has remained in the opposition, are volatile.

The Brothers of Italy have always allied themselves with Berlusconi and Salvini’s forces. If they remain co-operative in an election campaign, it could lead to the right coming to power. Giorgia Meloni, who leads the Italian fraternity, is eager to become the country’s first female prime minister.

“The will of the people is expressed in one way: by vote. Let us restore hope and strength to Italy.

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