Mattarella called the events “inevitable” after the political turmoil that the European Union’s third-largest economy has experienced over the past 24 hours.
In a short address from his residence at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, Mattarella thanked Draghi and his ministers “for their efforts over the past 18 months”.
“The political situation that has taken shape has led to this decision,” he added. “The discussion, the vote and the way that vote was filed yesterday in the Senate clearly showed the loss of parliamentary support for the government and the lack of prospects for a new majority. This situation made the early dissolution of the Chambers inevitable.”
Mattarella said Italy’s period “allows no pause,” in a statement released after his meeting with Senate President Elisabetta Casellati and House Speaker Roberto Fico.
“I must emphasize that the period we are going through does not allow for pauses in the interventions necessary to counteract the consequences of the economic and social crisis and, in particular, the rise in inflation, which caused everything at the expense of energy and food, entails dire consequences for families and businesses,” – he said.
The centrist leader’s resignation comes despite his popularity among many at home and support from world leaders who see him as an important European voice against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine.
Draghi’s resignation is a challenge not only for the future of Italy, but also for Europe.
Political Pandora’s Box
Draghi, a prominent economist not affiliated with any political party, became prime minister in February 2021, leading a cabinet of ministers from across the country’s broad political spectrum.
He became the fifth prime minister to lead the country in just eight years since the resignation of Giuseppe Conte in early 2021 over his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The former head of the European Central Bank was nicknamed “Super Mario” for saving the euro during the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. He worked closely with Finance Minister Daniele Franco to prepare a reform plan for Italy that would allow it to receive a €209 billion package from the European Covid-19 Recovery Fund.
However, last week 5-Star withdrew its support in a parliamentary vote of confidence in an economic package designed to tackle Italy’s cost-of-living crisis.
Draghi has previously stated that he will not lead a government that does not include 5-Star. Meanwhile, the far-right League and the centre-right Forza parties rejected the option of remaining in government with 5-Star, pushing the government to the brink of collapse and crashing the FTSE MIB, Italy’s main stock market, by more than 2.5%. .
After Draghi’s resignation and the dissolution of the Italian government, it will now have to wait for elections in order to carry out any reforms and pass the budget for 2023. The crisis will affect ordinary Italians, as without a functioning government, Italy will not be able to access billions of euros from the EU’s Covid-19 fund.
Blow for Ukraine
Draghi was a key figure in the West’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. He was one of the first European leaders to propose sanctions against Russia, including against its oligarchs and increasing pressure on its central bank.
He also supported Ukraine’s bid for EU membership.
Last month, he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv during a visit to underscore his support, along with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, despite growing backlash in Italy over sanctions and aid. Ukraine.
In his last speech before resigning, Draghi warned the Senate that unrest in Italian politics could leave a loophole for Russia. “We need to block Russian interference in our politics and society,” he said.
Emmanuel Macron called Draghi a “great Italian statesman” in a statement released after his resignation on Thursday.
The French president went on to call his Italian counterpart “a great European, a reliable partner and friend of France” with whom he “has built a sincere and trusting relationship over the past few years.”
He also drew attention to Draghi’s commitment to the European Union, stating that Draghi’s Italy was “a staunch supporter in providing European responses to our common challenges, especially in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine.”
Russia is watching
He added: “Now I doubt that we can send weapons [to Ukraine]. This is one of the many serious problems.”
Rome’s attitude towards Moscow may change after the elections, when Putin’s supporters will be among those vying for power.
Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League party who traveled to Moscow many times, posted a famous selfie of him wearing a T-shirt with Putin’s face from the city’s Red Square before the invasion. And Putin’s ally Silvio Berlusconi, who is also part of the centre-right coalition, could shake up the Western European alliance.
Headache for Italy and Europe?
Annual inflation in the European Union jumped to 9.6% in June. It reached 8.6% for 19 countries using the euro.
The wildfires engulfing Spain and France could also reduce economic activity.
With the Italians now facing early elections, investors fear that the right-wing factions in the country could gain more support in the vote, calling into question EU cohesion at an important juncture.
Italy’s center-right is led by Eurosceptics, including Salvini of the League and Giorgia Meloni of Take Italy, although some parties in the coalition have taken a softer stance on the EU. While the Democratic Party is expected to maintain its pro-European stance, it is not expected to come to power.
Meanwhile, the Five Star Movement is made up of both Euroskeptics and EU supporters, but it is not expected to succeed in the upcoming elections either.
Sharon Braithwaite of CNN, Julia Horowitz, Camille Knight and Zahid Mahmoud contributed to the coverage.