Italian President rejects Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s resignation offer : NPR
Mauro Scrobagna/LaPresse via AP
ROME — Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi offered to step down on Thursday after a populist coalition ally refused to back a key government bill, but the nation’s president rejected the resignation, telling Draghi to see if he can still find a majority in Parliament willing to support him.
Draghi’s broad unity coalition government – which includes right, left, center and populist 5-Star Movement parties – was designed to help Italy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. He took office in February 2021.
Hours earlier, Draghi and his government had won a vote of confidence, 172 to 39, in the Senate despite the 5 Star Movement’s refusal to support the bill, which included 26 billion euros (dollars) to help consumers and industries grappling with the energy boom. prices. But the snub, orchestrated by 5-star leader Giuseppe Conte, Draghi’s predecessor, did some damage.
Shortly before heading to the presidential palace in the Quirinal to hand in his resignation, Draghi declared: “The majority of national unity that has supported this government since its creation no longer exists.
But President Sergio Mattarella told Draghi to return to parliament and see if he could still garner strong support, a palace statement said, adding that the resignation had not been accepted.
State television said Draghi could speak in parliament next week, likely on Wednesday.
If Draghi fails to muster enough support to carry out his economic reforms, Mattarella could unplug parliament, paving the way for a snap election as early as late September. Currently, the term of Parliament expires in the spring of 2023.
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 and lay the groundwork for using billions in the European Union’s pandemic recovery fund.
The 5 stars, who lost significant support in recent local elections and plummeted in opinion polls, are in disarray. Diehard 5-star lawmakers who were skeptical of joining Draghi’s government last year have complained that their interests have been ignored.
In the measure on Thursday, the 5-stars opposed a provision allowing Rome to operate a rubbish incinerator on the outskirts of the chronically trash-choked Italian capital.
During the debate, several senators lambasted Conte’s decision to boycott the vote by 5-star senators.
Being in government “is not like picking a menu and deciding, antipasti, no, gelato, yes,” said Emma Bonino, who leads a small pro-Europe party.
Others noted that Draghi has become a pivotal figure in Europe as Russia wages war on Ukraine, especially with the imminent departure of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Draghi ruled with the support of virtually every major Italian party, except for the rising far-right Italian Brotherhood party, which demanded that Mattarella give Italians a chance to vote for new leaders.
Giovanni Orsina, professor of history and director of the school of government at LUISS University in Rome, correctly predicted that Mattarella would ask Draghi to find a new viable majority.
“We have the pandemic, we have the war, we have the inflation, we have the energy crisis. So it’s 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, suggesting that funding will not be lost even amid government instability.