Italy’s government faces ‘political test’ as partners pull out of vote

The Italian government is facing a crucial vote in the upper chamber of Parliament on Thursday, a confidence vote that a key coalition partner says it won’t take part in. 

The head of Italy’s 5-Star Movement Giuseppe Conte said his party’s lawmakers won’t participate in votes on a series of measures to help Italians withstand the economic crisis, which is also tied to a confidence vote. 

This puts the stability of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s coalition government at risk. 

Draghi’s broad government of national unity was formed with parties on the right and left, and with the populist 5-Star Movement, to help Italy recover from the COVID pandemic. 

However, the movement’s leadership has been complaining for weeks about the government’s priorities, and demanding more generous financial help for families and businesses hit hardest by high energy costs. They also want funding to continue for a guaranteed salary for people not able to find work. 

Draghi has tried to respond, but he made clear this week that he wouldn’t act on ultimatums.

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

The 5-Star Movement has indicated that it’s ready to quit the ruling coalition if Mario Draghi is not going to implement the measures they’re demanding.

Orlandi said there have been “several meetings” between the two parties to try and negotiate over 5-Star’s demands, but that Draghi had also made it clear he is going to leave office if the 5-Star Movement pulls out of his coalition government. 

“Even if the stimulus package is going to be approved by a less strong majority than usual well clearly questions remain over how long the government will last for, and what Mario Draghi’s future decision will be after today’s outcome,” said Orlandi.

It remains unclear if Draghi’s government would still command a majority without 5-Star lawmakers, given so many have defected or been expelled since the movement first swept to national power in the 2018 elections when it became the biggest party in Parliament.

The centre-right, which has done well in recent local and administrative elections and has been leading the polls, has said early elections would be the only solution if the 5-Star senators abstain from a confidence motion of their own government.

Conte insisted he still supported Draghi and would work to find solutions to the 5-Star demands. But, he added, “We have asked for a change in the exclusive interest of citizens.”

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