Italy’s president refuses to accept PM Draghi’s resignation

Italy's President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday evening refused to accept the prime minister's resignation amid a political crisis that could result in snap elections.

Italy's president refuses to accept PM Draghi's resignation
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrives at Rome's Quirinale Palace to hand his resignation to the president on July 14th, 2022. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Mattarella “did not accept the resignation, and invited the prime minister to appear before parliament to make a statement,” the presidential palace said in a statement on Thursday night.

Draghi had earlier vowed to resign after a major party in his coalition government, the Five Star Movement (M5S), effectively withdrew support for the government by refusing to participate in a confidence vote.

READ ALSO: Italy’s government risks collapse after Five Star sits out key vote

After losing the backing of M5S, Draghi said the conditions necessary to carry on with the coalition were “no longer there” and the “pact of trust that the government is based on has gone”.

He said he had made “every effort” to “meet the demands that have been put to me”, but the vote showed “this effort was not enough”.

President Sergio Mattarella, a figurehead who takes on a key role in moments of political crisis, asked Draghi not to throw in the towel but instead “assess” the situation in parliament.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has refused to accept Prime Minister Mario Draghi's resignation in the midst of a political crisis that threatens to throw Italy into snap elections.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has refused to accept Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s resignation in the midst of a political crisis that threatens to throw Italy into snap elections. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / POOL / AFP.

Draghi was expected to address both the lower and upper houses on Wednesday to see if he has the necessary majority to stay on.

“We now have five days to make sure parliament votes its confidence in the Draghi government,” Enrico Letta, head of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), said on Twitter.

M5S, headed by former premier Giuseppe Conte, is part of the broad coalition government formed by Draghi in February 2021.

The party, formerly known for its anti-establishment stance, abstained on a key vote on an aid package worth about 23 billion euros designed to help Italians deal with soaring energy bills and rising inflation.

Experts said the move was a tactical attempt to win back grassroots backing ahead of the scheduled 2023 general election.

The government survived the vote, but Draghi had previously warned on multiple occasions he would not carry on as premier without Five Star support.

The crisis could still end with Italians heading to the ballot boxes later this year.

Draghi was appointed prime minister in February 2021 by Mattarella – after a previous government headed by Conte collapsed – and charged with carrying out the reforms required to secure post-pandemic recovery funds from the EU worth approximately 200 billion euros for Italy.

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Italy’s government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

Italy's new government issued a decree on Thursday to continue sending weapons to Ukraine through 2023, continuing the previous administration's policy of support to Kyiv.

Italy's government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

The decree extends to December 31, 2023 an existing authorisation for “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine,” according to a government statement.

Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly voiced her support for Kyiv while underlying the importance of the Atlantic alliance.

In her first speech to parliament, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party pledged to “continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine.”

Her predecessor Mario Draghi was a staunch supporter of Kyiv, but the issue of sending arms to Ukraine split the biggest party in parliament during his coalition government, the Five Star Movement.

That friction led to the early elections that brought Meloni to power.

Parliament now has 60 days to vote the decree into law.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Despite Meloni’s efforts to reassure her Western allies of Italy’s support for the EU’s and NATO’s Ukraine strategy, including sanctions on Russia, the close ties to Russia of her two coalition partners have come under scrutiny.

Both Matteo Salvini of the League party and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who leads Forza Italia, have long enjoyed warm relations with Russia.

In October, an audio tape of Berlusconi was leaked to the media in which the former premier described how he had received a birthday present of vodka from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the tape, he also expressed concerns about sending weapons and cash to Kyiv and appeared to blame the war on Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Berlusconi later issued a statement saying his personal position on Ukraine “does not deviate” from that of Italy and the EU.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Salvini, too, has come under fire for his relations with Moscow, including a report that he dined with Russia’s ambassador to Rome just days after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Salvini, who has criticised EU sanctions as ineffective, has long admired Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face.