Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi looks on ahead of a confidence vote for the government after he tendered his resignation last week in the wake of a mutiny by a coalition partner, in Rome, Italy July 20, 2022. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi received a heavy handshake in a vote of confidence in the Senate – his government in Rome is now on the brink of collapse. Although the 74-year-old won the vote in Rome on Wednesday evening with 95 yes votes and 39 no votes, his major governing parties Lega, Forza Italia and the Five Star Movement did not vote. It is therefore likely that Draghi could again offer his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio from the party Insieme per il futuro (Together for the future) accused the politicians of failure. “You gambled with the future of the Italians. The consequences of this tragic election will go down in history,” said the 36-year-old. “From tomorrow nothing will be the same as it was before,” said ex-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. But today you have to thank Mario Draghi.

Formally, another vote of confidence is now due on Thursday in the Chamber of Deputies, the larger of the two chambers. However, it was also expected that the result would see Draghi go to President Sergio Mattarella and again submit his resignation. The question would then be whether he would accept it.

Draghi had already offered Mattarella his resignation last Thursday, which the head of state had rejected. The background was that the Five Stars had not expressed their confidence in a vote.

In his speech on Wednesday, Draghi called for the support of the divided governing parties if they wanted him to continue. Draghi spoke of a “pact of trust” that was broken last Thursday. “Are you ready to restore this pact?” he asked the senators. “It’s you who decides,” he said to the politicians before the vote.

In their speeches, the right-wing parties blamed the Five Star Movement for the government crisis. The co-governing centre-right parties, Forza Italia and Lega, only wanted the government to continue to the exclusion of the star politicians.

They still did not see their political demands, which they had recently presented to Draghi in a nine-point paper, as unfulfilled. This also included the introduction of a statutory minimum wage. They demanded a change and concrete steps by the government in their interest.

The markets reacted to the political crisis in Italy during the day. The Milan Stock Exchange closed with a significant minus. The risk premium for ten-year Italian government bonds rose significantly compared to German government bonds. With Mario Draghi, Italy could be missing an important guarantor of stability in Europe. If Mattarella accepts his resignation, there is a risk of early elections in the fall and a political standstill with the election campaign that will last for weeks.

Italy still has to implement important reforms in the second half of 2022 in order to secure billions of euros in EU money from the Corona recovery fund from Brussels. In addition, the country must plan the budget for 2023 and have it approved in parliament by the end of the year. Since a government may not be in place until early November, there won’t be much time left then.