Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has submitted his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella after key coalition parties withdrew their support for his government.
In a statement on Thursday, the president’s office said Mattarella had “taken note” of the resignation and asked Draghi’s government to remain on in a caretaker capacity.
The resignation opens the way for early elections in September or October. The statement by the president’s office did not specify whether Mattarella would dissolve parliament or call snap polls.
Senate President Maria Elisabetta Casellati and Chamber of Deputies President Roberto Fico were expected at the Quirinal Palace in Rome on Thursday afternoon.
“They are probably going to hash out some timeline for early elections,” Al Jazeera’s Adam Raney, reporting from Rome, said.
Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief, became prime minister in 2021 as Italy wrestled with the coronavirus pandemic and an ailing economy, had reprimanded his squabbling national unity coalition and urged them back into line before it was too late.
He won a confidence vote in the Senate on Wednesday, but boycotts by three of his coalition allies in the voting virtually doomed any prospects for his unity government’s survival.
Draghi had already tendered his resignation last week after one of his partners, the populist Five Star Movement, failed to back him in a confidence vote on measures tackling the high cost of living.
Mattarella at the time had rejected the resignation and told him to go before parliament to see if he could keep the broad coalition going until the planned end of the legislature in early 2023.
In a speech to the Senate after surviving the confidence vote, Draghi had made a plea for unity and laid out a series of issues facing Italy and conditions to stay in office.
Five Star once again decided not to back him, saying he had not addressed their core concerns.
Two centre-right parties – Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s League – also boycotted Wednesday’s confidence vote in the Senate, saying they did not wish to continue an alliance with the populist party led by former prime minister Giuseppe Conte.
“So even if the Five Star Movement had been on board, it would have been a big mess and it wouldn’t have been able to continue,” Raney said.
Italy’s readies to vote
Opinion polls have indicated neck-to-neck percentages for the centre-left Democratic Party and the neo-fascist Brothers of Italy party, which had remained in the opposition to Draghi’s coalition.
The Brothers of Italy has long been allied with the centre-right Forza Italia and the League, suggesting that a centre-right alliance would likely prevail in any election and propel Brothers’ leader Giorgia Meloni to become Italy’s first female premier.
Meloni, who had been calling for an early election since before the crisis erupted, was triumphant.
“The will of the people is expressed in one way: by voting. Let’s give hope and strength back to Italy,” she said.
Democrat leader Enrico Letta was enraged by the collapse of Draghi’s government, saying Parliament had betrayed Italy and urging Italians to respond at the polls.
“Let Italians show at the ballot that they are smarter than their representatives,” he tweeted.
Two ministers in Berlusconi’s Forza Italia announced their resignation over their party’s decision to turn their back to Draghi’s government.
“Avoiding to vote in favour of Mario Draghi, my party has moved away from its founding values: Europeanism, Atlanticism, liberalism, social market economy, equity,” Renato Brunetta, who was appointed minister for Public Administration in Draghi’s government, said.
Alongside Brunetta, Maria Stella Gelmini, former minister for Regional Affairs, also quit the party in protest.