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Published: 10:25, July 21, 2022 | Updated: 17:29, July 21, 2022
Italian PM Draghi resigns after coalition falls apart
By Reuters
Published:10:25, July 21, 2022 Updated:17:29, July 21, 2022 By Reuters

Italian Premier Mario Draghi attends a debate at the Senate in Rome on July 20, 2022. (GREGORIO BORGIA / AP PHOTO)

ROME – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi handed in his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday after his unity government fell apart, plunging the country into political turmoil and hitting financial markets.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella's office said in a statement that the head of state had "taken note" of  Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi's resignation and asked Draghi to remain in a caretaker capacity

Mattarella's office said in a statement that the head of state had "taken note" of the resignation and asked Draghi to remain in a caretaker capacity.

The statement did not say what Mattarella would do next. Political sources said earlier this week that he would likely dissolve parliament and call early elections in Oct.

Mattarella plans to meet the speakers of both houses of parliament on Thursday afternoon.

Italy's coalition crumbled on Wednesday when three of Draghi's main partners snubbed a confidence vote he had called to try to end divisions and renew their fractious alliance.

The political crisis has up-ended months of stability in Italy, during which the respected former central banker Draghi had helped shape Europe's tough response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and had boosted the country's standing in financial markets.

Italian bond and stocks sold off sharply on Thursday just as markets were bracing for the first interest rate hike from the European Central Bank since 2011.

READ MORE: Italian PM Draghi looks doomed after coalition splinters

In early trade, benchmark 10-year Italian bonds yields soared over 20 basis points to their highest in over three weeks and Italian stocks opened down 1.8 percent.

"It is a big blow to Italy's ability to deliver policies and reforms over the near term," said Lorenzo Codogno, head of LC Macro Advisers and a former senior Italian Treasury official. "There will be delays and disruptions with early elections, and most likely no budget by year-end."

Italian Premier Mario Draghi delivers his speech at the Senate in Rome, Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (GREGORIO BORGIA / AP PHOTO)

Coalition fractures

"Do I already have a team of ministers ready? I have my own ideas on how this nation should be governed, what should be done, what its industrial strategy should be," said Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni, who is tipped to lead the polls in any early ballot and could be the next prime minister

Draghi had already tendered his resignation last week after one of his partners, the populist 5-Star Movement, failed to back him in a confidence vote on measures tackling the high cost of living.

Mattarella rejected the resignation and told him to go before parliament to see if he could keep the broad coalition going until the planned end of the legislature in early 2023.

In a speech to the Senate, Draghi made a plea for unity and set out a series of issues facing Italy ranging from the war in Ukraine to social inequality and rising prices.

But the 5-Star once again decided not to back him, saying he had not addressed their core concerns.

In addition, the rightist Forza Italia and League parties decided to shun the vote, saying they wanted a commitment that Draghi was willing to forge a new administration without 5-Star and with fresh policy priorities.

ALSO READ: Draghi demands Italian unity as price for staying on as PM

Polls say the conservative bloc, which includes the far-right Brothers of Italy party, would likely win a ballot. 

"Do I already have a team of ministers ready? I have my own ideas on how this nation should be governed, what should be done, what its industrial strategy should be," said Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni, who is tipped to lead the polls in any early ballot and could be the next prime minister.

The political tumult comes at a tough time for debt-laden Italy, the third largest economy in the eurozone, where borrowing costs have risen sharply as the European Central Bank starts tightening its monetary policy.

European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Twitter that the "irresponsible" move against Draghi could lead to a "perfect storm" and warned of "difficult months ahead" for Italy.

The head of Italy's center-left Democratic Party (PD), another coalition party, bemoaned what he called a "mad day" and said parliament had gone against the will of the people.

"Italians will show themselves to be wiser at the ballot box than their politicians," PD chief Enrico Letta wrote on Twitter.

READ MORE: Italy faces parliamentary showdown on govt survival


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