Italian PM wins confidence vote but key coalition allies boycott voting
Italian Premier Mario Draghi has won a confidence vote in the parliament, but the government crumbled when three large parties of his main coalition partners snubbed a confidence by mass abstentions, virtually dooming any prospects for the embattled premier’s unity government’s survival.
The 74-year-old prime minister won the vote by 95 to 38 in the upper house of the 315-member Senate on Wednesday, but senators from the populist 5-Star Movement (5SM), the conservative forces of former premier Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia Party, and right-wing senators of Matteo Salvini's Lega (League) Party skipped the roll call.
The swift unraveling of Draghi's 17-month-old coalition government could make President Sergio Mattarella dissolve parliament, paving the way for holding early elections as soon as late September.
Last week, the prime minister had offered to resign after the 5SM pulled its support over opposition to parts of a relief bill for skyrocketing energy prices that had triggered the confidence vote. However, the president turned down the offer, asking Draghi to go back to parliament to gauge his support.
"The only way, if we want to stay together, is to rebuild this pact, with courage, altruism and credibility," Draghi said on Wednesday in an uncompromising speech to the Senate prior to the vote, adding that many Italians wanted the coalition government to carry on until elections due early next year.
Draghi has time and again stressed that no other governing alternative could be secured than the unusually broad coalition he currently leads.
European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni tweeted that the "irresponsible" move against Draghi could lead to a "perfect storm" and "difficult months ahead" for debt-laden Italy, the third-largest economy in the eurozone.