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14 Jul, 2022 16:59

Italian PM Draghi says he wants to step down

Mario Draghi won a confidence vote, but lost his coalition partners
Italian PM Draghi says he wants to step down

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced on Thursday that he would resign. Draghi survived a confidence vote despite his coalition partners in the Five Star Movement abstaining, but said he would step down after meeting with President Sergio Mattarella.

The former European Central Bank chief had led a coalition government since last February, but as of late faced persistent criticism from Five Star Movement leader Giuseppe Conte over the rising cost of living.

While Draghi’s coalition drew members from both left and right, the Italian premier had said that he would not stay on without the support of Conte’s party. Although he comfortably won the confidence vote even without the participation of Five Star lawmakers, he met with Mattarella immediately afterwards.

“I have always said that this executive would only go forward if there was a clear prospect of being able to carry out the government program on which the political forces had voted their confidence,” he said. “This compactness was fundamental to face the challenges of these months. These conditions no longer exist.”

Draghi is the second G7 leader to resign in short succession, after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week that he would step down, amid personal scandals and a similarly grim economic outlook.

While the Five Star Movement began as the largest partner in Draghi’s coalition, it was later split over his policies. Conte has spoken out against Draghi’s arming of Ukraine and military spending hikes, while former foreign minister Luigi Di Maio has left Conte’s party to form a new faction loyal to Draghi.

Di Maio has accused Conte of withdrawing his support from Draghi in a bid to bring the government down and solidify his own support. Centrist Senator Antonio Saccone, an ally of Draghi, declared on Thursday that Conte’s party was “doing a favor to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin” by abstaining from the vote.

While Draghi has supported EU sanctions on Moscow, Conte has condemned the “race to rearm” and called on Draghi to prioritize domestic concerns.

Prior to Draghi’s announcement, a general election had been scheduled for next year. However, snap elections may now be called in autumn.