Italy’s government faces ‘political test’ as partners withdraw from Senate vote

On Thursday, the Italian government faces a decisive vote in the upper house of parliament, a vote of confidence in which a key coalition partner says it will not participate.

Head of the Italian Five Star Movement Giuseppe Conte said his party’s legislators would not vote on a series of measures designed to help Italians weather the economic crisis, also linked to a vote of confidence.

This threatens the stability of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s coalition government.

Draghi’s broad government of national unity was formed with parties from the right and the left, as well as the populist Five Star Movement, to help Italy recover from the COVID pandemic.

However, the movement’s leadership has been complaining about the government’s priorities for weeks now and is demanding more generous bailouts for families and businesses hardest hit by high electricity prices. They also want to continue funding guaranteed wages for people who cannot find work.

Draghi tried to respond, but made it clear this week that he would not act on ultimatums.

Thursday’s vote is “a political test for the current government,” a correspondent for Euronews explained. Georgia Orlandi in Rome.

The 5 Star Movement has said it is ready to withdraw from the ruling coalition if Mario Draghi does not take the measures they demand.

Orlandi said there were “several meetings” between the two parties to try to negotiate Five Star’s demands, but Draghi also signaled he was going to leave his post if the Five Star Movement left his coalition government.

“Even if the stimulus package is approved by a less powerful majority than usual, it is clear that questions remain about how long the government will last and what the future decision of Mario Draghi will be after today’s results,” Orlandi said.

It remains unclear whether Draghi’s government can still have a majority without five-star lawmakers, given that many have defected or been ousted since the movement first came to power in the 2018 elections, when it became the largest party in parliament.

The centre-right, who did well in the recent local and administrative elections and leads the polls, said an early election would be the only solution if 5-star senators refrained from a vote of no confidence in their own government.

Conte insisted that he still supports Draghi and will work to find solutions to the 5 star requirements. But, he added, “we asked for a change solely in the interests of the citizens.”