Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Thursday that he would resign, after the 5-Star movement – the largest party in the country’s coalition government – withdrew its support in a parliamentary confidence vote.
Draghi’s measures – a package designed to tackle Italy’s cost-of-living crisis – passed by 172 to 39. However, the 5-Star boycott leaves the government at real risk of collapse and could lead to an early election.
After winning the vote but losing 5-Star’s support, Draghi said in a statement: “I want to announce that this evening I will present my resignation to the President of the Republic.”
“Today’s votes in Parliament are very significant from a political point of view. The majority of national unity that has supported this government since its creation is no longer there,” he added.
He had previously said that he would not lead a government that did not include 5-Star.
However, Italy’s President, Sergio Mattarella, has rejected Draghi’s resignation, instead asking Draghi to address the parliament in order to assess the political situation, the Italian Presidency said in a statement.
“The President of the Republic did not accept the resignation and invited the Prime Minister to appear before Parliament to make communications, so that an assessment of the situation that has arisen as a result of the outcome of the session held today in the Senate of the Republic could be carried out in its proper forum,” the statement said.
Several Italian political parties supported Mattarella’s decision.
“Italy, in this difficult moment, cannot do without Draghi,” Renato Brunetta, the minister for public administration from the Go Italy party, said in a Facebook post.
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio described the decision of his former party, 5-Star movement, as “a clear act of irresponsibility, thus condemning the country to the abyss.” Di Maio left the party in June creating a new party called Together for the future.
In a statement, Di Maio’s party supported the president’s decision and called Draghi a “precious and fundamental” figure.
“We are working to ensure that a solid majority in support of this government emerges in the parliament on Wednesday,” it said.
But Giorgia Meloni, the Leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy, the only opposition party, called for “immediate elections.”
“This nation is in a storm,” Meloni said, listing all the difficulties on the international and national level, from the war in Ukraine to the rising energy prices.
The populist 5-Star movement had objected to Draghi’s cost-of-living package on the grounds it didn’t go far enough, after threatening to withdraw its support for a long time.
A major sticking point was also the financing of a garbage incinerator in Rome, which angered the 5-Star movement.
“We are opposed to this decree in the term of method and substance, in particular regarding the incinerator. It’s madness,” said Maria Domenica Castellone, leader of the 5-Star movement in the senate, during a debate on Thursday.
Draghi was appointed Prime Minister if Italy in 2021 to help the country recover from the Covid-19 crisis. He was seen as a safe pair of hands that would be able to responsibly use the European Union’s Covid recovery funds. Draghi had previously served as President of the European Central Bank from 2011 to 2019.
Upon taking the job, he appointed a cabinet comprising of people from a wide range of Italy’s political parties.