Italian President Sergio Mattarella announced today he had dissolved parliament for a general election to be held within 70 days.
Mattarella said he made the decision as he saw no prospect of another ruling majority being formed following the resignation of outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Draghi addressed the Senate yesterday, with a confidence vote taking place later that day. Three of the big parties in his coalition – Matteo Salvini’s right-wing League, ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI) and the 5-Star Movement (M5S) – failed to take part in the vote.
September 25 is seen as a possible date for the vote. However, there were concerns this could clash with a Jewish holiday. The nation’s Jewish Community said on Thursday, holding the election on that day would not be a problem for them.
The right/centre-right coalition of Brothers of Italy (FdI), the only major party that never backed Draghi’s government of national unity, the League and FI is expected to win the election.
The president’s office has said that the outgoing government will stay in office for everyday administration for the time being.
Addressing the Lower House before meeting Mattarella to resign, the former president of the European Central Bank thanked those present, most of whom had supported his government of national unity.
Draghi appeared relaxed and cheerful, quipping, “Sometimes even the hearts of central bankers get used.” Draghi essentially confirmed the resignation he presented last week.
Mattarella initially refused to accept the resignation. Instead, the President told Draghi to report to parliament, which he did yesterday.
Draghi made an appeal to patch up his coalition on Wednesday after an array of calls for him to stay on. However, he lost the confidence vote after three parties refused to take part. Mattarella therefore dissolved parliament.
Among other things, Rome has more reforms to deliver in order to get the next tranches of almost €200 billion in EU grants and low-interest loans for its post-COVID National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP).
What was the reaction?
Enrico Letta, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), was not happy with the outcome. “We are not like the others, we decided to choose (what’s best for) Italy,” he said. “Parliament went against the country but we showed that we are focused on the interest of the country and the voters will rewards us”.
The M5S leader and ex-premier Giuseppe Conte defended his movement’s role in the collapse of the government. He said Draghi had “shown us the door” by refusing to listen to their demands.
Civil Service Minister Renato Brunetta said today he was quitting FI after the centre-right group helped bring down the government. He follows another high-profile, long-standing FI figure, Regional Affairs Minister Mariastella Gelmini, who quit on Wednesday. Gelmini said the party had turned its back on families and firms and given in to League leader Matteo Salvini.
“Those who put partisan interests ahead of the interests of the country at such a grave time are irresponsible,” Brunetta said. “The increasingly tight-knit leadership of Forza Italia have splayed themselves to the worst form of nationalist populism, sacrificing a champion like Draghi, the pride of Italy around the world, on the altar of the most short-sighted electoral opportunism”.