(Bloomberg) -- The League and Forza Italia said Sunday that their alliance backing Prime Minister Mario Draghi has been broken, signaling the biggest political forces are readying for possible snap elections after the premier announced his resignation last week.
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In a joint statement following a meeting in Sardinia, Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi ruled out the possibility of the two right-center-parties remaining in the governing coalition, which included the Five Star Movement.
The stance further complicates efforts to prop up Draghi’s government, after the premier Draghi made clear that he won’t lead a new government that doesn’t include Five Star. Draghi announced his intention to resign after Five Start failed to support the government in a confidence vote last week.
Five Star leader Giuseppe Conte appeared to lay the blame for the impasse squarely on Draghi once again on Saturday, saying that the prime minister had offered only “generic answers” to the party’s requests for more social spending. Without concrete plans to address those issues, “we won’t be able to shoulder any government responsibility,” Conte said.
The center-right bloc is the grouping that could benefit most if a vote ends up getting called for autumn. It includes the League and Forza Italia. as well as Giorgia Meloni’s Brother of Italy party, which currently tops the polls and is the only major party not backing Draghi.
While talks to patch up the current majority, or form a new one, continue, Italy’s political groupings are making preparations for a potential vote, several party and government officials said, asking not to be named discussing confidential deliberations. Elections could be held on Sept. 25, according to Democrat Leader Enrico Letta, who is among those trying to salvage Draghi’s government.
Draghi blamed a breach of trust with his broad but fractious coalition when he offered to resign on Thursday in a decision that convulsed Italian markets by raising the specter of fresh political turmoil. While the former central banker so far appears unmoved by efforts to get him to change his mind, he’ll be in parliament on Wednesday at President Sergio Mattarella’s request to address lawmakers.
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A resignation by Draghi would pitch Italy into disarray just as Europe contends with a brewing energy crisis fomented by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
At the same time, any fresh political turmoil would come at a complex juncture for the euro area, amid growing concerns about looming recession, even though the Italian economy has been faring better than its peers. Early elections would also hamper deliberations over Italy’s 2023 budget, a process that usually dominates parliamentary proceedings during the autumn.
Conte’s Five Star appears divided between those who want to patch up the rift with Draghi and those who want a full break with the government in an attempt to revive the movement’s moribund electoral fortunes.
Veronica De Romanis, a professor at Luiss university in Rome, thinks those efforts can still bear fruit.
“With a war, inflation and the European Central Bank’s monetary tightening, the party that leaves the government would impose a huge burden on the country,” she said. “Draghi won’t leave in the end as he would end up being on the wrong side.”
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