Political crisis looms in Italy
By Susy Hodges
Italy has been left in a political limbo after Prime Minister Mario Draghi tendered his resignation, saying his coalition government had collapsed. Draghi’s move came after the populist 5-Star Movement, one of his coalition partners, failed to back him in a confidence vote over his planned relief bill to help Italians cope with soaring energy costs.
The 5-Star had wanted Draghi to do more to help families cope with the cost of living crisis even if it meant a steeper rise in government borrowing.
Draghi has raised the stakes by saying he would not want to lead a government without 5-Star. A technocrat, his broad government of national unity was formed in February 2021 to help Italy recover from the Covid pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis.
5-Star emerged as the largest party in the previous election in 2018 but they have since suffered defections and a loss of public support.
President Sergio Mattarella, the supreme arbiter in Italian politics, urged Draghi to rethink his decision to resign and told him to address parliament next week to gain a clearer assessment of the political situation and what support he can garner.
Divisions among Italy’s political parties over issues such as the cost of living crisis and how to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are being heightened by the approach of a general election due in early 2023.
Several parties on the right are keen on early elections but a period of political uncertainty will jeopardize Italy’s efforts to tackle a looming energy crisis and a serious drought. The uncertainty also risks undermining Italy’s efforts to secure billions of euros in European Union funds.