18.07.2022, Italien, Rom: Menschen unterzeichnen während einer Kundgebung eine Petition, in der sie fordern, dass der italienische Ministerpräsident Draghi im Amt bleibt. Nach dem gescheiterten Rücktrittsangebot von Ministerpräsident Draghi mehren sich in Italien die Forderungen nach einer Fortsetzung seiner Regierung oder einer vorgezogenen Wahl. Foto: Andrew Medichini/AP/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Is Draghi staying or is he leaving? And what if he leaves? These questions have been on the minds of Italians for almost a week, and this Wednesday there should be an answer, at least the beginning of it. Then Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank and Prime Minister of Italy since February 2021, asks the vote of confidence for the second time in a short time to determine whether he still has his coalition of ten parties behind him. His speech begins at 9.30 a.m. in front of the Senate, the second chamber of Parliament.

The crisis surrounding Italy’s 67th post-war government has simmered since what was once the largest but now divided party in the alliance – the Five Star Movement (M5S) – refused to endorse an aid program for Italy’s victims of the crisis. But opinions differ about this trigger. M5S party leader Giuseppe Conte, who was also Draghi’s predecessor as prime minister, and his supporters accuse Draghi of smuggling some issues into the bill without consultation, including environmental projects that the stars found difficult to digest.

Among other things, they had a great success in the parliamentary elections four years ago with environmental policy and their protest against large-scale environmentally harmful projects. In addition, the M5S find that Draghi authoritatively linked the vote on the proposal with a vote of confidence, which forced the M5S to answer the vote of confidence negatively – even though Draghi wants to remain in government.

There is no other guarantee for good relations between Rome and Brussels and for a proper end to this turbulent legislative period. However, almost all parties fear early elections. Regular elections will not be held until next spring.

Whether it will be enough by then is more than questionable. Draghi, who turns 75 in September, seems to have had enough of governing in Rome, which is likely to be much more complicated than running a central bank – before the job in Frankfurt, the Roman headed his country’s bank, the “Banca d ‘Italy’.

Marco Travaglio, Italy’s harshest commentator, already scoffed: Anyone who has neither experience nor desire to mediate should not be appointed prime minister of such a complicated coalition. With the exception of Giorgia Meloni’s extreme right-wing “Fratelli d’Italia”, Draghi’s alliance brings together everything that made it into parliament in 2018.

Reluctance to have this job, but perhaps another: When the new president was elected in January, Draghi showed ambitions to crown his brilliant career with the post of head of state. Also because the parties were afraid of losing him as prime minister, 80-year-old Sergio Mattarella, who actually wanted to leave it at one term, was re-elected.

It was the dutiful Mattarella who forced Draghi – he had “full the canal”, he had declared – not to give up just yet and face parliament this Wednesday. Italy’s presidents have considerable influence if the government collapses.

Possibly, however, the question “Draghi yes or no” is no longer the decisive one. The government he faces is more divided than ever after last week’s vote of confidence. The five stars, after the departure of its co-founder, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, lost a quarter of the MPs, are likely to shrink further. Many no longer want to go along with the hard line of party leader Conte, starting with the parliamentary group leader in the chamber, Davide Crippa: “If Draghi comes to meet us, it is unjustifiable to withdraw our confidence.” On the right, however, close “Forza Italia” of the aged Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini’s League meanwhile decide to continue ruling with the stars.

The quasi-all-party government of “national unity” has become a completely scattered bunch, united only by the fear of imminent elections. Salvini, once a popular speaker and Interior Minister in Conte’s first cabinet, is also plucked and has to fear that his clientele will defect to the even more radical Giorgia Meloni, the party leader of “Fratellli d’Italia”. The “brothers” are the only opposition faction. Meloni could become Italy’s first female head of government after the election.

That is exactly why, according to the philosopher Paolo Flores d’Arcais, who is always critical of the government, on Tuesday, currently only something “worse than the Draghi government: the overthrow of the Draghi government”. He would force elections “under an indecent electoral law that enforces unnatural coalitions” like the current one, and gift the country to a united right that hates Italy’s post-war anti-fascist constitution.