Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi (C) talks with his ministers during the debate on government crisis following his resignation the week before, at the Senate in Rome on July 20, 2022. - Italy's political crisis comes to a head on July 20, 2022, as Prime Minister Mario Draghi, 74, discovers whether his fractured grand coalition can be saved or if snap elections are unavoidable. There is much at stake: a government collapse could worsen social ills in a period of rampant inflation, delay the budget, threaten EU post-pandemic recovery funds and send jittery markets into a tailspin. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

There is a moment during Mario Draghi’s speech before the Senate on Wednesday that may say a lot about this latest Italian government crisis. In his almost one-hour summary, the Prime Minister finally comes to the subject of “reddito di cittadinanza”, the basic income. It is important to limit poverty in the country, says Draghi. “But it needs to be improved because it has a negative impact on the job market.”

Then there are short interjections from the ranks of the senators. After all, it is this reform that Draghi’s most numerous coalition partner, the Five Star Movement (M5S), is particularly proud of until recently. It’s only seconds.

Even the strict Senate President did not intervene this time, after all, heckling is an integral part of the parliamentary debate. But the prime minister falls silent immediately and casts a scathing look at the disruptor until quiet reigns there again. It seems to come from a time when fathers brought children to their senses in this way, who at the table weren’t just silent and with their backs straight, putting the cutlery to their mouths.

The alienation of the lifelong banker with parliamentary procedures – the Five Stars accused him of ignoring their projects – seems to be taking hold. At the beginning of his speech, Draghi was campaigning for a majority: “I think that a prime minister who has never faced the voters must have the broadest possible consensus in parliament.”

It’s gone. On Wednesday evening, the Senate voted in favor of Draghi – but three parties from his own government did not vote: the once largest partner Five Stars, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s right-wing Lega. In the morning, Draghi had asked the Lower House to show their colors: “I am in this room today and at this point in the debate only because the Italians have asked for it” – apparently a reference to the numerous appeals to Draghi in recent days, in the to remain in office. A “new, serious and concrete pact” is needed in the coalition. “Are you ready for that?” he asked. But “you don’t have to answer this question for me, but for all Italians”. Draghi, actually tired of office, was now willing to stay, but on his own terms.

This includes changes to the core project of the Five Stars, basic income.

But the Lega also heard a lot from Draghi: No word on the flat tax, as the Leghisti complained, but the prime minister announced tougher action against tax evasion: The tax authorities came to 1,100 billion euros in taxes that had not yet been paid. That corresponds to 60 percent of the gross domestic product, “an impressive number”.

Draghi must have known that with stricter taxes he would drive Berlusconi’s Forza Italia out of his coalition, as would the Lega, which has its electoral base among medium-sized and small businesses, primarily in northern Italy. Draghi’s ideas for stimulating competition in economic life – he spoke explicitly of the taxi companies and the beach tenants, whose lucrative business is practically never advertised again – were likely to provoke the two parties from the center and far right. The same applies to his announcement, hidden in a quote, that he would continue to arm Ukraine against Russia – which M5S does not appreciate either. FI and Lega made it clear in the afternoon that they would not continue under these conditions.

The Five Stars, whose first refusal of confidence led Draghi to hand in his resignation on Wednesday, stuck to their stance. At the halfway point in Draghi’s parliamentary marathon – he wanted to enter the House of Representatives this Thursday – it is still unclear how this crisis will end . It is expected that Draghi will again ask President Sergio Mattarella to be dismissed from office. Mattarella, who refused to do so last week, could now agree and dissolve Parliament.