By Simon Basketter
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Italian government collapses after Mario Draghi resigns

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi handed in his resignation after he was deserted by coalition partners
Issue 2814
image of previous Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, leaving his car

Bankers’ and bosses’ man Mario Draghi hands in his resignation (Picture: Wikimedia Commons)

The Italian unity government has split apart after prime minister Mario Draghi handed in his resignation to president Sergio Mattarella.

It came after Draghi won a vote of confidence in the Senate, but was deserted by a majority of his cross-party coalition. President Mattarella dissolved parliament and called elections that are scheduled for 25 September.

Draghi was put in office after the previous government collapsed because the Italian ruling class was frightened of holding elections. Before being parachuted in, Draghi had worked for the World Bank, the Italian ministry of finance and Goldman Sachs. He had also been head of the Italian and European Central Banks.

He was not just the bosses’ banker. He was the European bosses’ banker. He initially offered his resignation last week after the Five Star Party refused to take part in a confidence vote on a cost of living package.

Five Star said they wanted more aid and opposed the construction of a waste incineration plant. But Draghi won the vote—essentially a vote of confidence—by 172 to 39 votes. The aid package and its many faults were not the cause of the crisis.

All the major parties, with the exception of the fascist Brothers of Italy, were part of the government. This has discredited them all on the left and right. And, while the prospect of stability and the EU cash kept it together, that cohesion is slipping.

Draghi’s initial resignation prompted appeals from industrialists, middle class groups and about 2,000 mayors and some demonstrations all calling for him to stay.

The president asked him to return to parliament to see whether he could resuscitate the government and push through cuts. The bosses require them to receive billions of euros in post-pandemic aid from the EU.

At the end of the debate on Wednesday, Draghi asked that the Senate vote on a brief resolution acknowledging and approving his general message. The far right League party of Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia insisted they would vote only for their own resolution. This called for a break with the past and an end to all collaboration with Five Star.

This essentially ended the government.

Draghi has been a strong supporter of the EU and Nato. And he has been keen for Western intervention to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, convincing a reluctant parliament to approve military supplies.

The right is tempted by a dash to early elections by a strong showing in opinion polls for their coalition. An election campaign against a background of spiralling prices, energy shortages and a blistering climate crisis drought is likely to see the right win.

That is made up of Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, direct heirs to Benito Mussolini’s fascist party. And there’s Salvini’s anti-immigrant League with what’s left of Berlusconi’s Forza—which split again as the government collapsed.

Salvini has been losing out to the Brothers of Italy because the League backed the government. Brothers of Italy is on 23 percent in polls. At the last parliamentary election in 2018, they only received 4.4 percent. This will have encouraged him to jump ship.

Meloni is a strong supporter of the Western intervention in Ukraine against Russia. While Salvini, who has recently muted his opposition to the EU in the face of cash, tilts in a more Putin-friendly direction historically. But these differences probably won’t stop a level of unity in a right wing government.

Meanwhile Five Star has seen its electorate crumble. It has lost about a third of its membership to a new party, Together for the Future, which supports the Draghi government.

The parliamentary left is frantically bemoaning that, after it couldn’t make workers pay more during the last crisis, an imposed banker hasn’t been able to either. Inflation is officially over 8 percent and energy prices are rising at 50 percent.

But the official unemployment rate is 8.4 percent, about 2 percent higher than the EU average, and youth unemployment 24 percent. The actual figures are probably much higher as there are millions of workers in precarious work.

The number living in absolute poverty rose to 5.6 million during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the rest of the EU cash of £175 billion to be paid, there are 55 “reforms” or austerity measures that have to be implemented.

While the smaller unions have called strikes, it has so far been a war of attrition. But the bankers’ attempts to push through attacks have stalled again. And again the risk is that without workers’ action, electorally at least it will be the far right launching the next assault on the poor. 

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