By Crispian Balmer and Giuseppe Fonte
ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s 5-Star Movement will not take part in a parliamentary vote of confidence on Thursday, party leader Giuseppe Conte said, in a move that is expected to trigger the collapse of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government.
Other coalition parties have warned they will quit government if 5 Star boycotts the Senate vote, while Draghi himself said this week he would not lead an administration without Conte’s party on board.
The Prime Minister’s Office had no immediate comment on Wednesday.
The 5-star decision plunges Italy into political uncertainty, risks undermining efforts to secure billions of euros in European Union funds and could lead to a snap national election in the fall.
After a day of intense discussions within the party, Conte announced on Wednesday evening that he would not support the confidence motion, saying the government should do more to tackle growing social problems in the zone’s third-largest economy. euro.
“I’m very concerned that September will be a time when many families will be faced with the terrible choice of paying their electricity bill or buying food,” he said, referring to sharply rising costs. Energy.
He nevertheless left the door open for further talks with Draghi on overcoming political differences.
“We are absolutely willing to dialogue, to make our constructive contribution to the government, to Draghi, (but) we are not willing to write a blank check,” he said.
The Prime Minister said on Tuesday that if 5-Star stopped supporting the government, it would be up to President Sergio Mattarella to decide what to do next.
However, Draghi, former president of the European Central Bank, also said he would not be willing to lead a new government without 5 stars in the cabinet.
Two coalition parties, the right-wing League and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), said on Wednesday that a snap election was the most likely outcome should the government implode.
“If a coalition party does not support a government decree, that’s enough, it seems clear that we should go to the elections,” said League leader Matteo Salvini.
A vote is expected in the first half of 2023. Bringing the vote forward to the fall would be highly unusual in Italy as this is when governments traditionally set their budgets, which must be approved by the end of the year.
Mattarella called on Draghi to form a national unity coalition in early 2020 to help the country overcome the COVID pandemic, and persuaded almost all parties from all political backgrounds to participate.
The 5 Star movement has seen its support plummet over the past year as it struggles to forge a clear identity. Seeking to make himself known, he has complained for weeks about government priorities and has demanded more generous financial aid for struggling families and continued funding for a welfare program he has championed for Italians. poor.
Wednesday’s vote of confidence concerns a package of cost-of-living aid worth some 26 billion euros. It also includes a provision for the City of Rome to build a giant waste incinerator – a 5-Star project always opposed.
(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Angelo Amante, writing by Crispian Balmer, Gavin Jones and Keith Weir, editing by Angus MacSwan and Rosalba O’Brien)