The Italian government on the brink

Italy’s government faces collapse as the Five Star Movement, part of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s shaky ruling coalition, abstained in a confidence vote.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s coalition government is on the brink of collapse on Thursday after his coalition partners, the Five Star Movement, refused to take part in a vote of confidence, raising the specter of a general election anticipated.

Five Star, led by former prime minister Giuseppe Conte, is a former anti-establishment party that has fallen in the polls and lost parliamentarians since taking office, hurt by political swings and internal divisions.

The decision not to vote – which political pundits say is a tactical attempt to regain grassroots support – could push Draghi’s already fractured coalition to crumble, and even force a snap national election later in the year. ‘year.

“We are not participating in the vote on this measure today … but our position is not a question of confidence in the government,” said Mariolina Castellone, the leader of the Five Star group in the Senate.

The government survived the vote of confidence, but Draghi had already warned several times that he would not continue as prime minister without the support of Five Star.

Draghi called a cabinet meeting right after the vote.

The vote focused on an aid program of around 23 billion euros, intended to fight against galloping inflation. But it also included a provision allowing a rubbish incinerator to be built in Rome – something Five Star has long opposed.

Analysts suggested the beleaguered party was not trying to bring down the government, but was trying to regain some of its lost support by doubling down on its principles ahead of the scheduled 2023 general election.

Lorenzo Codogno, a professor at the London School of Economics, said abstention would usher in “a new political phase”.

“Draghi would have no choice but to resign,” he told AFP.

Nervous investors caused the Milan Stock Exchange to fall by 3%.

Five Star Voltages

Draghi was appointed Prime Minister in February 2021 by President Sergio Mattarella and tasked with carrying out key reforms required under the EU’s largest tranche of post-pandemic recovery funds – a package of around €200. billion euros for Italy.

The government has since found itself embroiled in the war in Ukraine, taking a tough, pro-EU line, while battling runaway inflation at home.

Draghi’s support for Ukraine, which includes sending arms and backing EU sanctions, won a parliamentary vote of confidence in June despite criticism from Conte that the policy risked fueling a arms race.

Since winning parliamentary elections in 2018 with an unprecedented third of the vote, the Five Stars have been losing popularity and risk being wiped out in national elections due next year.

Last month the party – which had represented the largest in parliament – split, with Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio creating a splinter group.

Conte, whose party now garners 11% of the vote, is trying to bring more visibility to Five Star ahead of the election.

Codogno said he did not believe Conte was seeking to bring down the government.

But, he noted, his party “wants to grab headlines and win the polls again by leading the opposition as if it weren’t in government.”

The far right has taken hold of tensions, with the leader of the Lega party in the government coalition, Matteo Salvini, saying on Wednesday that if the Five Stars were to abstain from voting, new elections would have to be called.

“I think the only thing left for Draghi to do is go to Mattarella and resign,” Franco Pavoncello, political science professor at John Cabot University in Rome, told AFP.

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