Draghi Demands Unity to Stay On as Italy’s Prime Minister


ROME — Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy, who offered to resign last week after a rebellion in his broad national unity government, challenged the country’s fractious parties on Wednesday to stick together for the good of the country as a condition of him staying on.

“The only way forward, if we want to stay together, is to rebuild from the top this pact, with courage, altruism and credibility,” Mr. Draghi said in a speech to the Italian Senate, throwing down a gauntlet ahead of confidence votes in the upper and lower chambers of Parliament on Wednesday and Thursday that will determine the fate of his government, along with the stability of Italy and much of Europe at an especially tenuous time.

Mr. Draghi, speaking to long applause but also some heckling, said that the public outcries for the government to continue were “impossible to ignore” and that while “Italy is strong when it knows how to be united,” political motivations had “unfortunately” led parties to seek to distinguish themselves and weakening “the desire to move forward together.”

That politicking has left Italy teetering on the brink of instability once again after a period of relative calm, progress and expanding influence under Mr. Draghi’s leadership, which has made Italy an essential part of Europe’s united front against Russia in response to its war in Ukraine and its efforts to rebuild its economies amid the pandemic.

Now much will depend on whether Italy’s political parties take up Mr. Draghi’s offer, especially the Five Star Movement, which set off the current crisis by withholding its support last week in a key vote on the government’s spending priorities.

That rebellion prompted the offer to resign by Mr. Draghi. Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s president, rejected the resignation and asked Mr. Draghi to address Parliament, where confidence votes will force all of the parties to take responsibility for their decisions.

Mr. Draghi told the Parliament on Wednesday that Five Star’s revolt signified “the end” of the pact of trust that had fueled his government, and that it was unacceptable. If one party could do it, anyone “could repeat it” and ransom demands on the government to suit narrow political interests would become the norm, he warned.

He said that since he was appointed as a caretaker prime minister and not directly elected, his legitimacy was contingent on “as ample support as possible.”

“Are you ready to rebuild this pact?” Mr. Draghi repeated several times, concluding that the answer to this question was owed not to him but to the Italian people.

If Mr. Draghi does not receive the support he asked for today, he will resign for good, and many analysts believe that Mr. Mattarella will call for early elections, as soon as September.

Mr. Draghi’s speech was an effort to avoid the chaos that such a crisis would most likely bring.



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