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Italy’s parliament dissolves after prime minister announces resignation

Mario Draghi is the second European leader to announce resignation this month

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Italian President Sergio Mattarella, center, speaks at the Quirinale Presidential palace in Rome.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella, center, speaks at the Quirinale Presidential palace in Rome, Thursday, July 21, 2022. Italy’s president says he has dissolved Parliament after Premier Mario Draghi’s coalition fell apart. No date was set for a new election, but Mattarella said it must be held within 70 days under Italy’s Constitution. Mattarella said he decided on early elections because the lack of support for Draghi also indicated there was no possibility of forming another government that could carry a majority of lawmakers

Giuseppe Lami, Pool Photo via Associated Press

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has dissolved the Italian Parliament, following the resignation on Thursday of Prime Minister Mario Draghi after having lost support from key members of his coalition.

Mattarella said the lack of support for Draghi demonstrated there was “no possibility” of forming another government coalition.

Draghi’s government has been a strong supporter of Ukraine in its war with Russia. His resignation adds a layer of uncertainty as Europe grapples with a series of crises including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation and a weakening of the currency.

Draghi’s resignation comes after Boris Johnson stepped down as prime minister of the U.K. earlier this month following a series of scandals, setting up key elections in two of Europe’s largest economies.

No more ‘Mario time!’

Mattarella picked Draghi to lead the country out of the COVID-19 pandemic 17 months ago, after Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte resigned in early 2021. Draghi led the European Central Bank from 2011 to 2019, where he earned the nickname “Super Mario” for his defense of the euro.

Draghi offered to resign last week after members of the populist 5-Star Movement (M5S) — a party aligned with Draghi’s coalition government — boycotted a key Senate vote on a package to help Italians weather rising inflation and meet cost-of-living increases, according to The Associated Press

Mattarella rejected the initial resignation attempt but “took note” when Draghi offered it again after his Senate allies abstained from a confidence vote Wednesday, signaling a likely end to the partnership.

What’s next?

Italy’s Constitution requires that a new election be held within 70 days, according to Mattarella, although no formal date has been set. The current parliamentary term would have ended in March 2023.

The Italian press bemoaned the timing of Draghi’s departure, noting that Italy faces rising inflation and must make reforms to secure the remainder of the European Union’s pandemic recovery funds.

European leaders considered Draghi a key ally in support of Ukraine — which may have spurred his downfall. Some commentators pointed out that some of Draghi’s political opponents have been associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Giuseppe Conte — a former prime minister who leads M5S — opposed Italian military aid to Ukraine to defend against Russia’s invasion. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio rued that Conte had served “Draghi’s head on a silver platter” to Putin.