Italians are urging Draghi to overcome the political crisis and stay in office

ROME (Reuters) – Italian mayors, business organizations and union leaders urged Prime Minister Mario Draghi at the weekend to reconsider his decision to resign, warning that the stability of the debt-ridden country was at risk.

Draghi tendered his resignation last week after one of the parties in his broad coalition, the 5-Star Movement, refused to support the government in a parliamentary confidence vote.

President Sergio Mattarella rejected his resignation and asked him to address parliament this week, hoping to find consensus to avert early elections at a time of international unrest and economic tensions.

Draghi comfortably won a vote of confidence on a package of measures aimed at reducing the high cost of living for families and businesses. But he said that without the full support of all his partners, his government cannot continue national unity.

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The populist 5 Star Group, torn by internal divisions, says it has not pulled out of the coalition, but has called on Draghi to assure the group that he will implement its political priorities, such as the minimum wage.

“We cannot share the government’s responsibility if there is no certainty about the issues we have highlighted,” Five Star leader Giuseppe Conte said on Facebook late Saturday.

A source in the prime minister’s office said Draghi would not give in to any “ultimatums” and remained determined to resign.

But he has faced pressure to change his mind amid warnings that Italy risks losing billions of euros in European Union recovery funds from the pandemic and that it will struggle to curb rising energy costs without a fully functioning government.

The mayors of 110 Italian cities, including the 10 largest metropolitan areas, said in an open letter that they were watching the turmoil with “disbelief and concern” and called on all parties to show responsibility.

“Mayors, who are called upon every day to manage and solve the problems that plague our citizens, we ask Mario Draghi to continue and explain to Parliament the good reasons why the government must continue,” they wrote.

A range of industrial, agricultural and trade associations also released statements urging the government to press on, while the head of Italy’s largest union said stability was essential.

“I’m not taking sides, but I will say that we have a government that has not lost a vote of confidence,” Maurizio Landini, head of the CGIL group, told La Repubblica daily.

But overcoming the growing anger in government ranks and continuing regardless has appeared increasingly difficult, making national elections in September or October likely possibilities.

Draghi took up the position in early 2021 with the task of guiding Italy through the COVID-19 emergency. The legislature is due to end in early 2023, and opinion polls suggest a bloc of conservative parties will win a clear majority.

Two of these parties, Liga and Forza Italia, are in a coalition, and the possibility of winning the autumn elections gives them good reason to welcome the breakup of the coalition.

Both groups say they are willing to remain in Draghi’s cabinet, but only on the condition that 5-Star is no longer in government – a demand that Draghi has already rejected.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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