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Italian Prime Minister sets conditions for staying in office

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ROME — Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said spontaneous shows of support for his government were “unprecedented and impossible to ignore” as he weighed on Wednesday whether to rescind his bid to resign.

Draghi challenged partner parties in his governing coalition to come together after a key party declined his support, triggering his bid to quit last week. He suggested he would continue to lead if coalition members recommit to a unity pact that created his government a year ago.

“Are you ready? Are you ready to rebuild this pact? Are you ready?” Draghi thundered at the end of a speech in the Italian Senate. “You don’t have to give me the answer. You have to give it to all Italians.

In recent days, political leaders, mayors, medical associations and ordinary citizens have urged Draghi to stay in power as Italy faces soaring inflation and energy prices, the Russia’s war in Ukraine and the implementation of a plan to use some 200 billion euros in the pandemic of the European Union. recovery fund.

Draghi offered to resign after senators from the 5 Star Movement, the biggest vote-giver in Italy’s 2018 national elections, boycotted a confidence vote on a bill aimed at tackling the economic crisis. They opposed a bill that would fund a waste incinerator for Rome, but their dispute with the prime minister went way beyond that, including the government’s military support for Ukraine in its war with Russia.

Draghi, who was named head of government last year, had long insisted he would never lead a second government or another without the 5 stars. He said emphatically last week that he would not rule by ultimatum, a reference to 5-star demands.

But it appeared the waves of calls for him to reconsider, from inside and outside Italy, had had an effect.

He told the Senate he was personally moved by the spontaneous demonstrations of support, citing in particular petitions from Italian mayors and medical staff, the “heroes of the pandemic”.

“The mobilization these days of citizens, associations and regions for the government to continue is unprecedented and impossible to ignore,” Draghi said. “This requirement for stability forces us all to decide whether it is possible to recreate the conditions in which the government can truly govern.”

Draghi defined the priorities that the Parliament must take into account to rebuild “from above” the majority necessary for the government to work effectively. Although he indicated he was ready to try and forge a path forward, there was no clarity on how the day would unfold.

The 5 Stars have fractured badly over the crisis, and other coalition partners have staked their ground, with centre-right partners vowing they will never rule with the populist movement again.

After Draghi’s speech, senators offered answers and gave Draghi a chance to respond. A vote was possible later in the day with another day of debate scheduled for Thursday in the lower house of parliament.

Watching the scene was chairman Sergio Mattarella, who rejected Draghi’s offer to step down last week but may ultimately decide to accept it if offered again, ask him or someone else to try to govern until the planned spring. Parliamentary elections vote or dissolve parliament now. and call early elections in September.

Mattarella appealed to Draghi in 2021 to form a government of national unity, bringing together right, left and 5-star parties to guide Italy in its economic recovery after the pandemic and enact the reforms necessary to implement implementation of the EU recovery programme.

The uneasy coalition worked for a while – Draghi called it a “civic miracle” on Wednesday – but he lamented that the sense of compromise and working for the common good had evaporated in recent months as the parties sought to stand out and create divisions.

“I believe that a prime minister who has never stood before voters must have the greatest possible support in parliament,” Draghi said. “It is even more important in an emergency context, in which the government must take decisions that have a profound impact on the lives of Italians.”

Five-star leader Giuseppe Conte, who complained his forces had been humiliated and ignored by other coalition parties, presented a series of nine-point demands to Draghi, including the flagship 5-star pledge a basic income and a minimum wage.

Draghi addressed some of the 5-Star concerns in his speech, including ensuring that basic income and minimum wage were on the agenda. “A real social agenda is needed” to deal with soaring energy costs and soaring inflation, he said.

He set out the main short-term priorities to ensure the arrival of the next tranche of EU funds and cited reforms to the judiciary, tenders for public contracts, as well as gradual independence. of Italy vis-à-vis Russian gas as priorities.