by Thomas Fazi
Friday, 15
July 2022
Analysis
12:42

Mario Draghi is running away from the mess he created

The technocrat prime minister's resignation is hard to stomach
by Thomas Fazi
Not so super, Mario. Credit: Getty

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil this week as prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation after the Five Star Movement (M5S) — the second-largest member of his “national unity” coalition — boycotted a parliamentary vote of confidence.

Officially, the party, led by former prime minister Giuseppe Conte, walked out because the bill included plans to build a waste incinerator to address Rome’s garbage crisis, which the M5S has always opposed for environmental concerns; it also accused the government of not doing enough to combat poverty.

Despite comfortably winning the vote in the Senate, Draghi reacted by immediately announcing his resignation, saying that the “national unity coalition that has supported this government since its creation no longer exists” and lamenting that “the pact of trust” between allies had been broken.

However, in a bid to avoid snap elections, president Sergio Mattarella — the real powerbroker of Italian post-democracy — has rejected Draghi’s resignation, insisting he address parliament next Wednesday (July 20) for “an assessment of the situation”. Until then, the government will be hanging in a limbo. After that, several scenarios are possible.

One option is that Draghi stays where he is — either because he manages to convince the M5S to come back into the fold (Conte made it clear that the party was voting against the bill, not the government) or because Mattarella convinces him to continue serving as prime minister even without the Five Star Movement’s support. After all, even without the latter, Draghi would still be able to count on a huge majority.

If, on the other hand, Draghi confirms his resignation, the ball would pass to Mattarella, who would be faced with the choice of either trying to find a replacement prime minister until the end of the parliamentary term in May 2023, or calling for early elections later this year — the latter being the preferred option by Right-wingers Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini.

A casual onlooker may feel like this is another example of the vibrancy and volatility of Italy’s political system. But it is fact another dagger in the heart of Italian democracy. One the one hand, we have the pitiful attempt of Giuseppe Conte’s Five Star Movement, which broke with the ultra-Euro-Atlanticist wing of the party led by Luigi Di Maio, to rekindle its radical credentials. This has come after the party offered its unwavering support for a year and half to a government led by none other than the the movement’s former arch-enemy, über-technocrat and former central banker Mario Draghi — literally the bodily incarnation of the neoliberal political-economic model which the party once claimed to oppose.

This is of course a desperate attempt to halt the party’s free-fall in the polls — millions of voters have understandably turned their back on the party, disgusted at the former populist party’s pro-establishment turn — in view of the upcoming elections.

On the other hand we have Mario Draghi, who is so ill at ease with the dynamics of parliamentary democracy that he considers an affront the idea of governing only with the support of 70% of parliament. More probably, Conte simply offered Draghi the excuse to do what he had in mind of doing for some time — abandon a sinking country before the social and economic powder keg that he helped create explodes.

Indeed, it’s difficult to grasp the extent to which Draghi has managed to worsen a situation that was already far from brilliant. Mass unemployment, falling wages, record-level poverty, hundreds of thousands of bankrupt SMEs, skyrocketing inflation, rising interest rates on a ballooning public debt — this is the legacy of Mario Draghi. Not only did ‘Super Mario’ impose the harshest and most discriminatory pandemic restrictions in the West, at the same time he invited US corporations such as Uber into the country and dragged the nation into a war that is causing much greater damage to the Italian economy than to Russia. It’s probably no surprise that a recent poll showed that 50% of Italians aren’t happy with the government’s work.

The situation has really reached boiling point — and Draghi wants to jump ship. Then again, this is what happens when you give a central banker accountable only to the EU and to NATO free rein of a country.

Additional reporting by Paolo Cornetti

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27 days ago

The problem with Italy is lack of growth from the day it joined the €. Plus the unchallenged imposed migration that disorient people and kept wages even lower . The exit from the € is the answer . It’s hard but country saving

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
27 days ago

His jumping ship could easily be characterised as “doing a Cameron”.

polidori redux
polidori redux
27 days ago

How, even in Italy, can you refuse to accept a man’s resignation?

gavin jones
gavin jones
27 days ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Italian institutions and public life are full of things like that where you sort of have to blink and read twice. Read this on its justice system … https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/italy-sharpens-guillotine-cut-europes-slowest-trials-2022-07-13/

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
27 days ago
Reply to  gavin jones

Many thanks for that reference. Very interesting article which should be mainstream news, but isn’t, because it cant be shoehorned into the usual repetitive bs.

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
27 days ago
Reply to  polidori redux

when the resignee is made an offer which he or she finds difficult, or even impossible, to refuse.

polidori redux
polidori redux
27 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Maxwell

A dead horse in your bed? Blimey!

Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett
27 days ago

5-star could have been a transformative movement, but they made a fatal mistake by going in with the PD a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, it is too late for them now.

Matteo Rossi
Matteo Rossi
27 days ago

Could you please post links to verified data to support your claims about falling wages, record-level poverty, hundred of thousand of bankrupts of SMEs?
“An affront the idea of governing only with the support of 70%…” or perhaps the lucid acknowledgement that he would be hostage of all other supporting parties?
“Mass unemployment”? Unemployment rate has declined. See for yourself: https://formatresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Disoccupazione-3-03032022-BP-EN-Eurostat-Ing.pdf
“Skyrocketing inflation” is a common problem all across Europe
“Dragged a nation into a war…”. Ah ok! I finally get it.
Sorry for wasting your/my time.

Ian Mullett
Ian Mullett
26 days ago
Reply to  Matteo Rossi

Fazi maybe guilty of hyperbole but don’t underestimate the level of hatred that Draghi inspires. In my part of Italy good communists are considering voting for Meloni in an attempt to get rid of Draghi and all he represents. Mind blowing.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
28 days ago

I could use a good tutorial about the Italian situation. Does Draghi really have the support of 70% of the Parliament? That’s amazing; filibuster-proof with room to spare!
Also, what is an SME?

Ian Mullett
Ian Mullett
26 days ago

Small and medium size enterprises

pia van Spaendonck
pia van Spaendonck
27 days ago

I’m happy to read this article about Draghi. In the Netherlands we have a very one-sided press.

Ian Mullett
Ian Mullett
26 days ago

Italy faces a choice between a government run by an ultra neo liberal and bunch of self described fascists but hey that’s democracy.