In Italy, the largest party within the Draghi government has collapsed. Late on Wednesday evening, the acting foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, announced his withdrawal from the “Movimento Cinque Stelle” (M5S). About a quarter of M5S MPs go with him.
So far, the Five Stars, which emerged from the last parliamentary elections in spring 2018 as clearly the strongest party, have already lost individual members of parliament, some even expelled themselves. As a party, the Grillini – after their founding figure, the TV entertainer Beppe Grillo – had stayed together since their founding in 2009.
Di Maio’s departure was preceded by a dispute over direction with Giuseppe Conte. Conte, who rose to the top of the party after resigning as prime minister last year, succeeded Di Maio, who held the party office before him. Since then, both have also been considered rivals for power in the party, which has lost more and more voters and approval since its sensational almost 33 percent.
The reason for war now offered the Ukraine policy. The Conte wing opposes arms sales to Ukraine, while Di Maio, following Prime Minister Draghi’s line, was in favour. At his farewell press conference on Tuesday evening, Di Maio – a word that is often used when there are party splits in Italy – spoke of a “difficult decision that I never thought I had to make” and accused Conte of having attacked the government with his no, ” just to get some votes back”.
“In light of Putin’s atrocities, we cannot continue to display insecurity and be on the wrong side of history,” Di Maio said.
At the time of his public statement, the question had long been answered: Conte’s Five Stars had already assured Prime Minister Draghi that they would not block arms deliveries, even though they rejected them. It is more likely that it was more about the party’s new statute, which Conte is currently writing. In it, some core principles of the Five Stars, which has always seen itself as an anti-party party, are to be laid down. These include the end of mandates after two legislative periods.
This would also affect the foreign minister, who can now hope to present himself at the next parliamentary elections on his own account and without such ballast. His new party should be called “Together for the Future”. The daily newspaper “Il fatto Quotidiano”, which is close to M5S, formulated its headline about the break on Wednesday accordingly bitingly: Di Maio is going “with 60 others whose mandate will soon end”. The “recent moult” of “Draghi’s minister means: Salvini’s right-wing extremist Lega will become the strongest force in parliament.
In fact, this is the direct consequence of the split of the Five Stars. The “Dimaisti” do not want to leave the government, which now consists of ten parties; Di Maio demonstratively sided with Prime Minister Mario Draghi during the session in the second chamber of parliament when Ukraine was at stake.
But the left party and its boss Giuseppe Conte are also on Draghi’s side, despite some dissent. He was calm when asked about a government crisis. No one even asked him for a government reshuffle.
Fear of new elections is currently holding Draghi’s difficult coalition together, which ranges from the Stars and the Social Democratic PD to the far right, the Lega. Because almost everyone is afraid, stars ahead, of giving up percentages in the regular elections next spring, neither party has any desire to carry out demolition exercises.
And everyone in parliament, both those in government and the opposition, fear the effects of the electoral reform. From the 2023 election onwards, the chambers of parliament will be several chairs smaller.