Europe Politics

Italy's 5-Star Movement votes to back Mario Draghi, opening way for new government

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Key Points
  • Italy's 5-star Movement voted to back Prime Minister designate Mario Draghi.
  • The former bank chief is set to take office at the head of a broad government of national unity this week.
  • Draghi is expected to announce a list of ministers on Friday, and unveil his policy program next week.
Former European Central Bank President Mario Draghi speaks after his meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, Italy February 3, 2021.
Francesco Ammendola | Presidential Palace | Handout via Reuters

Members of Italy's 5-Star Movement voted on Thursday to back Prime Minister designate Mario Draghi, opening the way for the former European Central Bank chief to take office at the head of a broad government of national unity this week.

In an online ballot, 59.3% of 5-Star supporters heeded a call from party leaders to support the new administration, despite the fact it includes some of their arch foes and will be headed by the sort of technocrat they have previously decried.

After coalition infighting brought down the previous government, President Sergio Mattarella called on Draghi, one of the most respected figures in Italy, to form a new cabinet to tackle the coronavirus health crisis and economic meltdown.

He is expected to present his list of ministers to Mattarella on Friday and unveil his policy program next week in parliament, which will then hold confidence votes in both houses before he can formally take office.

Victory is guaranteed, but a number of 5-Star lawmakers have suggested that they may vote 'no' or abstain regardless of the online ballot, opening the way for a possible schism.

5-Star was born in 2009 as an anti-system, anti-euro protest party and some of its lawmakers have threatened to vote against Draghi regardless of the online ballot.

The movement's members held similar ballots before forming coalitions first with the rightist League in 2018 and then with the center-left Democratic Party in 2019. The size of victory on those two occasions was much larger -- 94% and 79% respectively.

While Thursday's margin was narrower, the vote is still a boost for Draghi and means that no single party has the power to bring down his government.

The 5-Star leadership had urged members to vote yes, saying the movement had to help lead economic recovery in Italy, which expects to receive more than 200 billion euros ($242.56 billion) from a European Union fund to revive its battered economy. "In one of the most dramatic moments in our recent history, the 5-Star Movement has chosen the path of courage ... but above all it has chosen the European path," Luigi Di Maio, foreign minister and a top 5-Star politician said on Facebook.