Italy enters into political uncertainty after the refusal of the 5 stars


ROME (AP) — Italy entered days of political and financial uncertainty on Friday as political leaders weighed their options and Prime Minister Mario Draghi weighed his after the populist ally of the 5 Star Movement sparked a crisis by refusing to support a government-sponsored bill.

On the immediate horizon, behind-the-scenes consultations through the middle of the week to see if Draghi could be persuaded to continue ruling with a newly constituted majority – which the main parties seem to want – or another option other than a early election as soon as September.

Draghi immediately offered to resign on Thursday after 5-star senators boycotted a vote to help Italians deal with rising energy prices, arguing that the conditions that created his national unity government, which included parties of right, left and the 5 stars, no longer exist. But President Sergio Mattarella rejected his offer and told Draghi to return to parliament on Wednesday to brief lawmakers and offer “an assessment of the situation”.

Significantly, Mattarella did not call for a vote of confidence. Draghi was clear that there would be no second Draghi government or one without the 5 stars. The extra days of limbo prescribed by Mattarella would at least allow Draghi to have a scheduled visit to Algeria to finalize key agreements on gas imports.

The turmoil could not have come at a worse time for the eurozone’s third-largest economy. Italy is facing soaring inflation and energy costs due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, a prolonged drought that threatens crops and the ongoing implementation of its program pandemic stimulus package funded by the EU.

While Draghi may still have the backing of key allies to continue leading the government, some far-right and right-wing parties are already targeting a snap election.

“With the resignation of Draghi, this legislature is over for the Brothers of Italy,” said Georgia Meloni, leader of the right-wing party which garners around 22%, almost as much as the centre-left Democratic Party. “We will fight until the Italian people regain a right that citizens of all other democracies have: the freedom to choose their own representatives.”

She added the hashtag #electionsnow.

Meloni’s usual centre-right allies – former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party and Matteo Salvini-led League – have signaled a wait-and-see approach. In a joint statement on Friday, they backed Draghi in what they said was understandable anger and slammed the 5-stars for creating a national crisis over their opposition to a new garbage incinerator for Rome.

“I have no words,” said Antonio Tajani of Forza Italia.

Friday thus opened days of behind-the-scenes discussions between party leaders to decide on the position to adopt next Wednesday. Already there were reports that the 5-stars could vote for a revamped Draghi program, but it is not clear that other parties in the ruling coalition would want to pick them up.

Guido Cozzi, professor of macroeconomics at the University of St. Gallen, said international markets are alarmed by the instability and that Mattarella did well to try to keep Draghi, a former head of the European Central Bank, in place because it is considered a “vital element”. pillar to guarantee the stability of Italian public finances.

“His coalition government was an unprecedented miracle in Italian political history,” Cozzi said. “However, Draghi has no independent political force behind him, and his government will always depend on the leaders of antagonistic parties.”

The 5 Star Movement, the biggest vote-giver in the 2018 elections, saw its reservoir of support in the years that followed and would stand to lose if Italy held a snap election. In recent years, he has seen dozens of lawmakers default, most recently the high-profile foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, who left with 60 lawmakers to found a new movement.

Giuseppe Conte, the 5-star leader and former prime minister, blamed others for forcing the Movement to boycott the 26 billion euro confidence motion on Thursday to help Italians weather soaring inflation and energy costs. The tipping point, Conte said, gave Rome’s mayor extraordinary powers to manage the capital’s garbage crisis – powers that Conte bitterly claimed were denied to 5-star Virginia Raggi when she was mayor of Rome. Rome.

Di Maio slammed Conte’s boycott of the vote as a gift to Russia, as the 5 stars criticized the Italian government‘s military support for Ukraine.

As a signal, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council under President Vladimir Putin, posted photos of ousted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Draghi on Friday followed by a black box with a question mark, like if he asked “Who’s next?” ”

Medvedev’s social media post followed a stream of comments from other Russian officials who attributed Johnson’s downfall to his focus on spearheading Western efforts to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

“My heart cries to see Moscow celebrating,” Di Maio told RTL radio. “Medvedev toasted and was happy because Putin’s head was served to Putin on a silver platter.”


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