ROME (Reuters) – Italy may need a snap election to break a political deadlock, government officials said on Friday, after Prime Minister Mario Draghi tendered his resignation following a Movement mutiny 5 stars, a coalition partner.
President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday rejected Draghi’s resignation and asked him to address parliament next week, probably Wednesday, to see if he has a viable and consistent majority.
Here are possible scenarios of what could happen next:
SAME PRIME MINISTER, SAME PARTNERS
Draghi did not lose a vote of confidence and he still has a clear parliamentary majority, even without 5 stars. Moreover, the party has not said it wants to leave the government and its ministers have not resigned.
So on paper Draghi could continue with a multi-party coalition. However, he seems to have no desire to continue with the struggling economy, the war raging in Ukraine and COVID-19 cases on the rise again.
He warned earlier this week that he was unwilling to accept party political ‘ultimatums’ and he told the cabinet on Thursday that the ‘trust pact’ between the ruling parties had been broken and his coalition of national unity “no longer exists”.
SAME PRIME MINISTER, FEWER PARTNERS
Plausible on paper but unlikely in practice.
Draghi calls for a vote of confidence, 5-Star does not support him but he retains the support of other coalition parties, including the right-wing League, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and a large group of former 5-Star politicians who parted ways with frontman Giuseppe Conte last month.
Draghi would have a smaller but still viable majority in both houses of parliament.
However, Draghi said he would not stay in power without 5 stars, and the League also signaled that it would not support another government.
Even if Draghi and the League changed their minds, the operation would upset the internal balance of government, as the coalition would be heavily right-leaning, and the demands of the remaining groups could trigger further turbulence.
An early vote in September or October seems increasingly possible, even though Italy has not held an autumn election since World War II, with the last months of the year traditionally devoted to budget development.
Early voting carries other risks. Italy still has to meet numerous bureaucratic and legislative deadlines this year to secure billions of euros in EU funds and these could be missed without a fully functioning government in place.
However, the League and its ally Brothers of Italy, which leads opinion polls, are calling for an election if Draghi goes, and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who left 5 stars last month, said on Friday that there would be no alternative.
NEW PRIME MINISTER
To avoid a snap election and financial turmoil, Mattarella could try to set up another unity administration by bringing in an institutional figure to lead it until the elections, scheduled for the first half of 2023.
However, it is hard to imagine the different components of the Draghi government rallying around a new personality.
(Reporting by Gavin Jones and Angelo Amante, Writing by Gavin Jones; Editing by Kim Coghill)