Italian President Sergio Mattarella signed a decree dissolving parliament, clearing the way for new elections in Italy in the wake of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s resignation. “The dissolution of the parliamentary chamber is always the last choice,” Mattarella said, noting that the political situation led to the move. Election day was set as September 25 at a meeting of the Council of Ministers in Rome, ANSA and Adnkronos news agencies reported, citing participants, transmits MIA.
Elections should have taken place in the spring of 2023. The people of Italy face an unsettled election campaign period in the middle of the holiday season and as the country battles a severe drought, energy supply worries, high inflation and uncertainty caused by the Ukraine war.
Coalition negotiations could drag on depending on the outcome of the election. According to experts, there might not be a new government until November. Draghi, who remains prime minister, thanked Mattarella for his trust.
“We must be very proud of the work we have done on behalf of the president of the republic in the service of all citizens,” he said. He called on lawmakers to continue working with purpose in the coming weeks. Earlier, the president’s office said Draghi’s government would remain in place for the time being to handle current business.
The step comes after Draghi said he saw no possibility of continuing to govern after failing to receive broad backing in a Senate confidence vote on Wednesday night. Mattarella accepted Draghi’s resignation after a week-long attempt to unite his unravelling coalition failed. The first crushing blow to Draghi’s coalition came when one of his coalition members, the left-wing populist Five Star Movement (M5S), refused to back the government in a key vote last week. Draghi, who does not belong to a political party, had offered to resign then, but Mattarella had rejected the resignation in the hope that Draghi could revive his coalition.
On Wednesday, however, Draghi fell well short of the broad support he wanted in a confidence vote in the Senate. Although the 74-year-old won the vote with 95 votes in favour to 39 against, three of his coalition partners – the far-right populist League party, conservative Forza Italia, and the left-wing populist Five Star Movement (M5S) – did not take part in the vote.
The former president of the European Central Bank (ECB), who is credited with saving the euro in 2012, has led a broad coalition in the eurozone’s third-largest economy since February 2021. Parties that do not usually cooperate had joined forces in order to guide the country through the coronavirus pandemic.
Draghi himself is a respected figure in Italian politics, and his address to parliament on Thursday was preceded by long applause, with many parliamentarians giving him a standing ovation. In response to the resignation, Renato Brunetta, the minister for public administration, announced he has left his Forza Italia party.
“It is not me who is leaving, but Forza Italia, or rather what remains of it, that has left itself,” Brunetta wrote on Facebook. He accused his party of succumbing to populism and putting party interests above those of the country.
Forza Italia – which means Forward, or Let’s Go, Italy – is the party of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Until the election, it remains to be seen whether Italy will remain politically paralysed or will be able to implement pending reforms that it needs for the payment of important EU aid funds.
According to the polls, the far-right Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) led by Giorgia Meloni would currently be out in front and could possibly form a government with Matteo Salvini’s League party and Forza Italia. Such a government would be problematic for migration policy and relations with the EU, among other things. Draghi, who had been head of government since February 2021, was also seen abroad as a guarantor of stability for the otherwise sometimes turbulent Italy.
He made the country with almost 60 million inhabitants visible again on the international stage, travelling to Kiev with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, for example. Economically, there is a lot at stake for Italy, which is heavily indebted.
The markets already reacted negatively on Thursday.
The Milan stock exchange fell sharply into negative territory and closed in red. The fear is also that the crisis in the third largest EU economy could become dangerous for the euro. The planning and adoption of the coming budget is also likely to be problematic, should a new government not be able to work until November.