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Italy braces for early elections as Draghi’s coalition fails

Following the swift breakdown of the ruling coalition and the acceptance of Premier Mario Draghi's resignation on Thursday, Italy is heading for an early election.

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New Delhi: Following the swift breakdown of the ruling coalition and the acceptance of Premier Mario Draghi’s resignation on Thursday, Italy is heading for an early election.

In the midst of growing inflation and Russia’s conflict in Ukraine, the collapse of Draghi’s coalition in the third-largest economy in the eurozone and the unpredictability of Italian voters’ ballot decisions have struck a destabilising blow to the continent.

Dissolving Parliament “is always the last choice to make, especially if, as in this moment, there are important tasks to carry to completion,″ President Sergio Mattarella said in a brief speech at the presidential Quirinal Palace, where Draghi had tendered his resignation hours earlier.

The election will take place on September 25, according to Mattarella’s administration.

He urged political parties to consider “the greater interests” of the country when running for office. He cited rising food and energy costs in saying that those who suffer the most are typically the most vulnerable in society.

“The period we are going through doesn’t allow for any pause in determining interventions to contrast the economic and social crisis, and in particular the increase in inflation, which brings heavy consequences for families and businesses,″ he said.

At Mattarella’s request, Draghi stayed on in a caretaker capacity to make sure the government can implement fundamental policies in the months before a new coalition is in place.

However, given the frequently quarrelling nature of Italy’s political parties, it may take longer than that for a new government to be formed. A new administration wasn’t sworn in for 90 days after the 2018 Parliamentary elections.

“The debate, the vote and the ways in which this vote was expressed yesterday in the Senate made evident the parliamentary support for the government had gone lacking and the absence of a prospective to give life to a new majority” in Parliament, the president said.

Since the five-year term of the current parliament would have ended in March 2023, the election would really take place just six months beforehand.

Mattarella remarked on the region and country’s unfavourable timing. But he claimed he was left with little alternative after Draghi’s “unity” coalition’s three major parties declined to extend their support in a vote of confidence on Wednesday evening.

Mattarella had turned down Draghi’s offer of resignation a week earlier.

Italy’s unrest could cause economic troubles for the rest of Europe. As the European Union battled to maintain its cohesion against Russia, whose natural gas is extensively imported by Italy and other nations, Draghi had assumed the role of statesman.

Draghi urged his acting Cabinet to remain focused on Italy’s urgent issues.

According to Draghi, “Italy has everything (required) to be strong, authoritative, and reputable in the world.” In addition to moving through with required economic reforms, the administration must address the epidemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation, and energy expenses, he said.

17 months ago, after COVID-19 devastated Italy’s economy, Mattarella appointed the former head of the European Central Bank to lead the country’s recovery.

But last week, two larger parties—the right-wing League of Matteo Salvini and the populist 5-Star Movement led by Draghi’s predecessor in office, Giuseppe Conte—as well as the center-right Forza Italia of former premier Silvio Berlusconi destroyed his coalition.

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