Upper house

Draghi demands party unity as a condition to stay on as Italian prime minister

  • Draghi offered to resign after coalition split
  • Tells Parliament that Italians want unity of government
  • The speech receives a cold reception from 5-Star, League
  • The Senate is due to vote on the speech later Wednesday

ROME, July 20 (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Wednesday demanded unity from his coalition partners if they wanted him to stay in power, leaving his threat of resignation hanging over parliament.

Draghi outlined a range of issues facing Italy, ranging from war in Ukraine to social inequality and rising prices, and said political parties must support him if he is to steer the country to elections planned for the first half of 2023.

“The only way, if we want to stay together, is to rebuild this pact, with courage, altruism and credibility,” Draghi said in an uncompromising speech to the upper house, adding that was what the Italians wanted. .

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“Are the parties and you parliamentarians ready to rebuild this pact? he added.

However, senators from the populist 5-Star movement, which sparked the crisis last week after refusing to back the government in a vote of confidence, did not applaud at the end of the speech, nor did the party of right of the League.

Draghi submitted his resignation last week after the 5-star departure, but President Sergio Mattarella refused it and told him to return to parliament to see if he could revive the 18-month administration.

The Senate held a lengthy debate after Draghi’s speech and was due to vote de facto on the government’s future at 7:30 p.m. (1730 GMT). The lower house was due to discuss political unrest on Thursday.

The former head of the European Central Bank has enough support to remain in office without 5 stars, but he has so far rejected this option as his original mandate was to lead a national unity coalition with parties from all over the world. political horizons.

Complicating efforts to overcome divisions, the League and its Forza Italia allies said they no longer wanted to share power with 5-Star. Read more

“We need a new government led by you, prime minister,” Senate League leader Massimiliano Romeo told the chamber, adding that the alternative would be early elections.

“There is more than one way out of this (crisis), but there has to be a strong discontinuity. At this point the choice is yours, prime minister,” he said.

AUTUMN ELECTIONS

If Draghi decides the government can no longer continue, the president will likely call an election in September or October. Italy hasn’t had an autumn election since World War II because that’s the time normally set aside for budgeting.

Draghi addressed the 5-star’s main concerns, saying it was important to tackle growing social inequality and pledging the government would move towards introducing a minimum wage.

He also indicated that he would act on some of the League’s political priorities, such as lowering taxes and granting greater autonomy to the regions. But he also said the country needed to take potentially unpopular steps, such as enacting a competition-boosting law that the League has been lobbying against.

“Italy does not need a veneer of trust, which vanishes in the face of inopportune measures. It needs a new pact of trust, sincere and concrete,” he told the partners of Coalition.

The 5-star executives said nothing in the hours after Draghi’s speech and it was far from clear whether they would go along with his call. It was also unclear whether Draghi was ready to continue with a reduced majority if they left.

“Draghi offered a lot more stick than carrot in this speech, said Francesco Galietti, head of political risk consultancy Policy Sonar. “He indicated he wanted to stay, but he also clarified what he doesn’t like about the current situation.”

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Additional reporting by Angelo Amante, writing by Keith Weir and Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alison Williams

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