The resignation of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, 12 hours after his coalition broke up in Parliament, was the latest move in a political chess set that is expected to last for months before a new government takes power.
This Thursday, the only certainty for Italians is that they will vote on September 25, about six months ahead of schedule.
But even before a date was set, Italian parties were already in ‘turmoil’ in the face of the political situation, with some losing longtime loyalists in the leadership, after three key coalition partners – populists, right-wing, and conservatives – have decided to leave Draghi.
In 17 months at the helm of the government, Draghi was seen as a pillar of stability in a nation, the EU’s third-largest economy, beset by high inflation and fears of energy shortages as the war in Ukraine drags on.
The rallies, petitions, and appeals from citizens, mayors, and various authorities to save the government were ignored, with party-political priorities triumphing over solidarity.
Parties’ lack of attention to citizens’ appeals can shape voters’ decisions and election results will only be known until all votes are counted and parties complete behind-the-scenes talks to form a government.
Given the support for Draghi, the question in Italy is why the government fell.
Many accusations have been directed at the 5 Star Movement (M5S), the biggest political force in Parliament since the 2018 elections, with its leader, Giuseppe Conte, being chosen as prime minister in consecutive governments before joining the coalition of “national unity”.
Conte always seemed ‘annoyed’ to have lost his place to Draghi, chosen by President Sergio Mattarella to lead the post-pandemic Italian economic recovery.
Last week, the chess pieces began to move when M5S senators boycotted a vote of confidence on a bill to alleviate energy costs.
Draghi also experienced other moments of disagreement with coalition partners, such as the right-wing leader of the League, Matteo Salvini, when he criticized a government decree that required vaccination against covid-19, negative test or recent recovery certificate to access places. such as restaurants, gyms or workplaces.
The fatal blow to Draghi’s government came when senators from Conte, Salvini, and Berlusconi’s parties refused to renew their support for the government, in a vote of confidence the prime minister sought in an 11-hour bid to revive the coalition.
The Italian head of state announced this Thursday to the nation that, although early elections are always a “last choice”, there was no other alternative than to advance to the fourth government in the five-year term of Parliament, signing a decree to dissolve the Parliament.
The Italian Constitution requires elections to be held within 70 days of the decree dissolving Parliament, whose five-year term would expire in March 2023.
Between the fall of the government and the scheduling of elections, another question is who stands to gain from the situation. Polls in recent months show that the far-right Brothers of Italy party, the only sizable force in Parliament to refuse to join Draghi’s coalition, could reach just over 20% at the polls.
The same percentage is attributed by polls to the centre-left Democratic Party.
But former prime minister Enrico Letta, whose Democratic Party gave Draghi its vote of confidence, is betting on an eventual electoral alliance with M5S, a decision that could be risky as the populists ‘pulled the rug’ out of Draghi.
Berlusconi’s Forza Italia already appears to be on the decline, which had ministers in Draghi’s government who have already announced that they will leave the party, accusing the billionaire and former prime minister of betraying the party’s pro-Europe and pro-NATO vocation to join Eurosceptic Salvini and leave Draghi.
Source: With Agencies