Mario Draghi demands the union of coalition parties to continue as prime minister

Mario Draghi demands the union of coalition parties to continue as prime minister

The threat of the Italian Prime Minister’s resignation has been looming over Parliament since last week, when Mario Draghi asked to step down but was prevented by President Sergio Mattarela. In an appeal to end the crisis, this Wednesday (20) the prime minister demanded unity between the parties of the broad coalition that supports his government, asking for support to lead the country to the elections scheduled for the first half of 2023.

In his speech, Draghi presented a number of issues facing Italy, such as the war in Ukraine, social inequality and rising prices. “Are the parties and you parliamentarians ready to rebuild this pact?”, he asked, in an uncompromising speech to the senators, adding that it is unity that the Italians demand now.

Draghi came to power a year and a half ago supported by a coalition made up of almost all the parties represented in Parliament, with the exception of the far-right acronym Brothers of Italy. His resignation was triggered by the refusal of the populist acronym 5 Star Movement (M5S) to participate in a vote of confidence in the government. However, the Italian president refused the request and told him to try to revive his term.

In his speech, Draghi addressed the main concerns of M5S, saying that it was important to fight growing social inequality and promising that the government would move towards the introduction of a minimum wage. He also indicated a willingness to act on some of the political priorities of the right-wing League, such as cutting taxes and giving regions greater autonomy.

According to Draghi, Italy will also need to take potentially unpopular measures, such as increasing competition, which could counter various lobby groups. Neither the M5S nor the League applauded his speech. “Italy does not need a veneer of trust, which disappears in the face of inconvenient measures. It needs a new pact of trust, sincere and concrete,” he said.

Senators gathered to discuss Draghi’s speech — the result of a vote on his speech is expected later in the day, followed by a debate on the government’s future. It is not yet clear whether M5S will support his appeal, nor whether the prime minister will continue if the party leaves the coalition.

A former head of the European Central Bank, Draghi has support to remain in office without M5S participation, but has rejected that option because his original mandate was to lead a coalition of national unity with parties across the political spectrum. Complicating efforts to bridge divisions, the League and its Forza Italia allies said they no longer wanted to share power with the M5S.

If Draghi decides that the government can no longer continue, new elections must be called by the president for September or October. Italy has not had an autumn election (in the northern hemisphere) since World War II, as this is the period normally reserved for budgeting.

“Draghi offered much more stick than carrot in this speech,” said Francesco Galietti, head of political risk consultancy Policy Sonar, referring to an English expression in which stick represents punishment and carrot, reward. “He indicated that he wanted to stay, but he also made it clear what he doesn’t like about the current situation.”

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