Government Collapse in Italy and the Return of Mario Draghi
By Manuel Wallick
On Monday evening, after a series of attempts to maintain his government, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tendered his resignation. This will bring down the Italian coalition government that was formed in 2018. This comes after former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pulled out of the coalition government, instigating this crisis. While the government was able to survive a series of crucial votes in the upper and lower houses of Parliament, the minority government and its inability to pass any more legislation, particularly relating to the pandemic, has culminated in this move.
While this move is dramatic, it does not necessarily mean that Italy will head to snap elections as some options are available. After talks to salvage the coalition under current Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte failed, former head of the European Central Bank who successfully navigated Europe through the Eurozone Debt Crisis, Mario Draghi, has been given a mandate by President Silvio Mattarella to attempt to form a government. If he can form a new coalition government, Italy would be spared from going into an election. This is the preferred option for most parties as it would avoid a messy election and maintain a government during COVID-19 and throughout the vaccine rollout. Draghi, who is popular throughout the country and has broad governing support, will still face difficulties in forming a government at this time.
President Mattarella is very keen to avoid an election at this difficult time, especially given the disruption it and the possible results would bring. If one were to occur, it would be within the next few months and would leave the third-largest country in the European Union largely rudderless for the time being. Despite this, right-wing parties are in favor of an early election mostly due to their solid chances if one were to take place. Meanwhile, centrist and establishment parties are also preparing for elections that could be very difficult for them. If an election were to take place, Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League would be the leading candidate and likely winner. This is far from the preferred option of most parties and many officials and thus may drive them towards the negotiating table to form a government.
While Draghi seems to be the man to meet this moment, he shall face his share of challenges as he attempts to govern Italy. In a country known for its unstable governments, this is but the latest example of coalitions failing. While there is no good time for this to occur, in the middle of a pandemic it is a particularly challenging time.
Manuel Wallick is a sophomore from Lexington, South Carolina, majoring in political science.
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