Italy faces political crisis

In the context that Mario Draghi has signalled that he will resign as Italy’s Prime Minister, Italian and European public opinion has expressed concern at the risk of disintegration of the national unity government, pushing the boot-shaped country into a political crisis.

Piazza Navona Square is empty during the blockade against COVID-19, Rome, Italy, April 4, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
Piazza Navona Square is empty during the blockade against COVID-19, Rome, Italy, April 4, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s intention to submit his resignation is believed to have originated from the vote in the Senate on the so-called decretoAiuti (decree on economic aid) to help families and businesses cope with rising prices. Political circles have viewed the vote as a test of the unity of the Italian government and the credibility of Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Although the decree was ultimately passed by the Senate by an overwhelming 172 votes in favour and 39 against, the refusal of Five Star Movement (M5S)- the second largest party in the ruling coalition -to participate in the vote caused Prime Minister Draghi to lose confidence in the unity of the coalition government and announce his resignation.

Facing the risk of government collapse, Italian President Sergio Mattarella immediately rejected the Prime Minister’s resignation and asked the soon-to-be 75-year-old Prime Minister to come to parliament today (July 20) to report on the situation in order to find a solution to the political tension.

Expressing unanimous support for the Prime Minister, more than 100 mayors, businesses associations and labour union leaders in Italy simultaneously signed an open letter calling on Mario Draghi to reconsider his decision to resign and warn the nation is facing the risk of political instability. The letter states that the mayors ask Mario Draghi to stay as prime minister and convince the Italian parliament that the current government will still run the country effectively.

Economists say that in the event of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s resignation, Italy may face the risk of losing access to a multi-billion EUR post-pandemic recovery support package from the European Union (EU) while at the same time pushing Italy into a difficult situation in its efforts to curb the escalating price of energy and goods due to the lack of a fully functioning government in place.

Analysts say the ability of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s coalition government to overcome internal disagreements is not high. In this case, Italy will have to hold early elections in September or October.

Formed in February 2021, the government of national unity led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi brings together most of the political parties present in the Italian Parliament, with the exception of the opposing Brothers of Italy party of far-right politician Giorgia Meloni. The Italian government and Prime Minister Draghi personally have made many outstanding impressions both at home and abroad.

However, with the nature of a ruling coalition with too many parties, the existing differences and disagreements have become more serious over time. Some key political parties in the coalition government such as M5S, Democratic Party (PD), and League Party (Lega) often criticise and argue with each other about policy proposals right from the moment they are discussed within the government. In particular, the Aiuti decree was recently supported by the majority of the coalition, but M5S opposed it because some of the contents were not in line with the core values ​​of the party. M5S made a nine-point list of demands that Prime Minister Mario Draghi must fulfil.

Although Prime Minister Mario Draghi, an expert in economics and banking, has made concessions to the M5S’s claims, the second largest party in the ruling coalition has not yet felt pleased and thus boycotted the vote in the Senate.

Voters of the boot-shaped country expressed their hope that Prime Minister Mario Draghi would continue to lead the country through the instability lurking ahead, in order to help the EU’s third-largest economy return to stability and prosperity.