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ITALIAN POLITICS

‘We need stability’: Calls grow for Italy’s Draghi to stay on as PM

Business leaders, university deans and more than 1,000 mayors of Italian towns have appealed to Prime Minister Mario Draghi to rethink his resignation amid soaring inflation, EU reforms and war.

'We need stability': Calls grow for Italy's Draghi to stay on as PM
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi offered his resignation on Thursday. Photo: Pierre TEYSSOT / AFP

Italy’s university deans on Monday added their voices to the calls for Draghi to to rethink his resignation amid soaring inflation, the cost of living crisis and Italy’s post-pandemic recovery plans.

Draghi offered his resignation to Italy’s president on Thursday, but was asked to take time to sound out whether it was possible to carry on with the current government until the general election early next year.

READ ALSO: Anger and astonishment in Italy after PM Draghi’s resignation attempt

He is expected to address parliament on Wednesday, either to lay out his plan for keeping the government alive or to repeat his belief that his only option is to resign.

“Dear Premier Draghi, the university world needs you,” read an open letter in newspaper Corriere della Sera by Ferruccio Resta, the head of the Politecnico di Milano and the president of the conference of Italian university deans.

“Young people need examples and renewed faith in the future”.

READ ALSO: What does Italy’s latest political crisis mean for the economy?

Over the weekend a petition attracted the signatures of hundreds of mayors from Florence to Rome and Venice on Sunday, pleading for Draghi to continue.

The petition slammed the “irresponsible behaviour” of the Five Star Movement, a member of the ruling coalition that sat out a confidence vote last week, a move Draghi had warned would bring down the government.

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi tried to tender his resignation on Thursday, but was asked by President Sergio Mattarella to stay.

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi tried to tender his resignation on Thursday, but was asked by President Sergio Mattarella to stay. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP.

Business leaders and Italy’s industry associations have also called on the former European Central Bank chief to stay on as premier.

For now the country remains in limbo – with a very real possibility of early elections being called after summer.

READ ALSO: Four scenarios: What happens next in Italy’s government crisis?

Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and far-right leader Matteo Salvini, both of whom have parties in Draghi’s coalition, said Sunday they could no longer govern with Five Star, due to its “incompetence and unreliability”.

Berlusconi and Salvini are both “ready” to go to the polls “even very shortly”, if necessary, their joint statement said.

The mayors who signed the petition said they were watching events unfold “with disbelief and concern” as their cities and towns begin the work of recovering from pandemic-induced closures.

READ ALSO: How one dying Italian village plans to spend €20m in EU recovery funds

“Our cities… cannot afford a crisis today that means immobilism and division, where action, credibility, seriousness are now needed,” the petition said.

The post-pandemic recovery and social emergency mean “now, more than ever, we need stability, certainty and consistency in order to continue the transformation of our cities.

“Because without the rebirth of these, Italy will not be reborn either,” it said.

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POLITICS

‘Stability and peace’: Italian PM Draghi’s farewell warning to EU leaders

Italy's outgoing PM Mario Draghi used his last day on the European stage Friday to warn fellow leaders and his far-right successor that a united Europe should remain their "guiding star".

'Stability and peace': Italian PM Draghi's farewell warning to EU leaders

European leaders gave Draghi, a hero in Brussels during his former decade-long leadership of the European Central Bank (ECB), a warm round of applause on the last day of his final EU summit.

The 75-year-old economist was due to be replaced later on Friday as Italian prime minister by far-right eurosceptic Giorgia Meloni, leader of the post-fascist party Brothers of Italy.

As leader of the ECB in 2012, Draghi was hailed as the saviour of the euro when he faced down markets during the sovereign debt crisis, famously declaring he would do “whatever it takes” to stabilise the currency.

In Brussels, EU chief Charles Michel led tributes to Draghi at the summit table, thanking him for his work and “artful phrases, and a concise, brief and powerful style”.

The leaders were played a brief tribute video and, according to a European official in the room, Draghi received a long and warm round of applause before delivering his remarks.

READ ALSO: Far-right leader Meloni set to be named Italy’s first woman PM

“Part of the video statement says that the European Union is the guiding concept for all our countries,” he said.

“They all look at the EU as a source of security, stability and peace. We have to keep this in mind as a guiding star for the future, especially in troubled times like these.”

Mario Draghi (L) speaks with Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz (2nd L), President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (2nd R) and Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (R) on October 21, 2022. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

The message could have been directed to his Italian nationalist successor in Rome, but also to some of Draghi’s fellow European leaders at the meeting in Brussels.

Draghi came to the summit angry over resistance to a European price cap on gas imports, accusing richer countries like Germany of out-spending smaller partners to shield their own citizens from the energy shock.

A spokesman said Draghi warned of the negative impact on European unity if countries with more fiscal firepower go it alone, and urged the creation of a “common spending capacity” to cushion consumers across Europe.

This was fiercely opposed by the EU’s so-called frugal countries – led by the Netherlands and Germany – which insist that the bloc already has enough money on hand to help governments face the crisis.

After hours of discussion, the carefully-worded summit statement reflected a difficult compromise, stressing “the importance of close coordination and of common European level solutions, where appropriate”.

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