Mario Draghi called a confidence vote in the Senate today. It is on a resolution presented by former Lower House Speaker Pierferdinando Casini asking on him to stay on at the helm of government. The next episode in the government crisis will be clear this evening.
The Prime Minister called for the vote as he replied in the Upper House to a debate that ensued after he reported to parliament this morning.
What did Draghi say about the government crisis?
Mario Draghi told the Senate the “only way forward” for his executive is “to reconstruct the pact of trust” that it was founded on.
The PM was in parliament after President Sergio Mattarella refused to accept his resignation last week. It followed the failure of the 5-Star Movement (M5S) to back the government in a confidence vote.
“Not supporting a confidence vote is a clear political gesture,” said Draghi. “It is not possible to ignore, as that would amount to ignoring parliament. It is not possible to contain it, because that would mean anyone can repeat it. It is not possible to play it down…”
“The only road, if we still want to stay together, is to reconstruct this pact from scratch with courage, altruism and credibility”.
The Prime Minister defended his government’s achievements and outlined its future aims.
“Italy has lots to say about going beyond the principle of unanimity in the EU and budget (rule) reform,” he said. “But a strong, cohesive government is needed to do all this. Italy needs a new concrete, honest pact of development.
“Parties, are you ready to reconstruct this pact? We are in this chamber because the Italian people asked us to. It is an answer that you must give not to me, but to all the Italian people”.
Furthermore, Draghi said the “undeserved” array of appeals for him to stay on moved him. They came from a variety of spheres, including business leaders, university deans and voluntary associations. He said he was most struck by those from around 2,000 mayors and frontline health workers.
Draghi also pointed out that last week’s confidence vote was only one example of how the unity of the ruling coalition in backing the government’s agenda had faded in recent months. He referred to opposition from within the coalition to the government’s justice and competition reforms, and from some quarters to sending addition military aid to Kyiv.
Draghi told the Senate his decision to present his resignation was “as painful as it was obligatory”. He added he agreed with President Sergio Mattarella’s decision to refuse his resignation and request for him report on the crisis of government to parliament.
He also recalled how Mattarella asked him to form the unity government early in 2021 as Italy struggled in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he stressed a technocrat PM”who has never presented themselves before voters (at elections) needs broad support (from the political parties)”.
While many Senators were on their feet applauding at the end of the speech, none of the M5S and very few of the League lawmakers in the Upper House applauded.
League whip calls for administration without M5S
Massimiliano Romeo, the Senate whip for the League, called on Draghi to form a new administration without the 5-Star Movement (M5S).
“We are ready if it is a question of forming a new ruling majority, without the M5S, and if it is necessary to reconstruct a new government,” Romeo said after Draghi’s speech. “A new government is needed with you because you are authoritative and we respect you. There must be discontinuity that only your authoritativeness can give. So, at this point the choice is yours”.
Romeo said the alternative was for President Sergio Mattarella to dissolve parliament for early elections with Draghi staying on as caretaker premier.
This evening, the results of the confidence vote will set the path out of the government crisis.