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Italy’s government faces a new vote of no confidence on shaky ground

#Italys #government #faces #vote #confidence #shaky #ground

Italians awoke to political uncertainty on Friday amid an unprecedented government crisis that tipped Mario Draghi’s future as prime minister and raised the specter of snap elections.

The prime minister of Europe’s third largest economy will have until Wednesday to bolster political support to save his coalition government from tackling a host of challenges, from rising inflation to the war in Ukraine.

Italy’s technocrat leader, the former head of the European Central Bank, has significantly raised his country’s profile on the world stage and in Europe.

The crisis comes at a critical juncture for the country, which risks losing billions in post-recovery EU funds if key structural reforms are threatened.

But he has led a recalcitrant coalition of Italy’s leading political parties, with the exception of Italy’s far-right Brethren, which has grown increasingly uneasy ahead of general elections scheduled for early next year.

The crisis was sparked on Thursday after the populist Five Star Movement, a coalition member with dismal poll numbers, decided to suspend a vote of confidence on a cost-of-living aid package, some of which it opposed to, leading to Draghi’s resignation.

President Sergio Mattarella, who acts as kingmaker in moments of political crisis, refused to accept the resignation and sent the prime minister back to parliament next week to assess the situation.

“We have a very open situation, the pressure is mounting, there is a lot of diplomatic work going on behind the scenes and we still have four days to go,” Francesco Galietti, an analyst at Policy Sonar, told AFP.

– “Italy risks chaos” –

Although political crises are nothing new in Italy, “this one is unprecedented because geopolitical factors have precedent,” Galietti said, citing tensions with Russia over its war in Ukraine.

Draghi is scheduled to be in Algeria, a key gas supplier following Italy’s boycott of Russian gas, on Monday and Tuesday. Upon his return, he will address Parliament, with or without a vote of confidence.

Politicians and pundits alike view the possibility of Draghi continuing his mandate as extremely tense, even though he technically has the numbers to survive a vote of confidence with or without Five Stars.

“The Draghi government and the coalition that supported it have to move on, but at the moment I see it as very, very difficult,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told RTL 102.5 on Friday.

Reports of behind-the-scenes political wrangling filled Italian newspapers on Friday.

“Draghi Resigns, Italy Risks Chaos,” read a headline in the daily La Stampa.

– “Suicide Instincts” –

Corriere della Sera editor Massimo Franco wrote that Draghi’s resignation, forced by the Five Stars, represented the “triumph of the suicidal instincts of political Italy”.

The Five Star Movement “preferred to destroy the attempted transition to stability and normality represented by the anomaly of a national unity executive led by the most outstanding figure available,” he wrote.

He added that the party is “desperate for a few percentage points to survive.”

Pundits see the Five Stars’ move as an attempt to appeal to their base ahead of next year’s election as poll numbers lag at 11 percent.

While Italy’s left-wing and centrist parties called for support for Draghi, the Brothers of Italy party and the Lega called for snap elections.

“With Draghi’s resignation… this legislature is over,” wrote Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Friars of Italy, on Facebook.

“This parliament no longer represents Italians… elections now,” wrote Meloni, whose party currently leads polls on voting intention.

The prospect of early elections is seen as desirable by some political leaders “because the government’s ability to pass additional reforms and make politically difficult decisions is nearing exhaustion,” LC Macro Advisors economist Lorenzo Codogno wrote in a note.

“Draghi does not want his tenure to die with painful and slow torture.”

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