The Italian government headed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi is at risk of collapsing as one its main coalition partners, the 5-Star Movement, announced late Wednesday that it will not participate in a key confidence vote in a move that risks triggering a government crisis and leading to early elections.
The vote Thursday in the Senate has been called to obtain the approval of a 23-billion-euro ($23.1 billion) package in economic aid to struggling families and businesses. In recent weeks, the 5-Stars have expressed their strong dissent over some of the measures, threatening to pull their support from the Draghi coalition if their requests were not heard.
After a series of long meetings with the party’s lawmakers Wednesday, 5-Star leader Giuseppe Conte said the responses provided by the government were not enough to ensure their participation in the confidence vote. The government will likely survive the confidence test also without the 5-Stars’ votes, but a political crisis would be unavoidable.
Draghi has already made clear that he will not lead another government without the support of the 5-Star Movement.
On Wednesday, similar comments came from the leaders of the other two main coalition partners -- the center-left Democratic Party and the right-wing League party – who suggested early polls as the only solution if the 5-Star Movement pulls out.
However, the first possible window to hold national elections would be in the autumn, when the government would be busy drafting the budget law in a particularly difficult economic environment.
The next step after the exit of the 5 Stars from the coalition would be for Draghi to speak to President Sergio Mattarella, who could ask him to call another confidence vote in parliament to test the survival of the government’s majority.