Italy’s president dissolves parliament, calls snap election

Sergio Mattarella’s move comes after PM Mario Draghi quit following the collapse of his national unity government.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has dissolved parliament, clearing the way for an early election after prime minister Mario Draghi quit following the collapse of his national unity government.

Mattarella said the election must be held within 70 days, leaving the government to fix the precise date which is likely to be in late September.

“The period we are going through does not allow for any pause in the [government] action which is needed to counter the economic and social crisis, and rising inflation,” the president said in a short address from his Quirinale Palace in Rome on Thursday.

A government source told the Reuters news agency that the poll will be held on September 25.

September 25 is the last Sunday before that deadline expires. Italy traditionally holds votes on a Sunday.

Draghi, an unelected former central banker who has led a broad coalition for almost 18 months, resigned earlier on Thursday and has been asked to stay on in a caretaker capacity.

A bloc of conservative parties, led by the far-right Brothers of Italy, looks likely to win a clear majority at the next election, a study of opinion polls showed this week.

“No more excuses”, tweeted Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy, who vociferously led the opposition throughout Draghi’s term and has long called for new elections.

Draghi’s coalition crumbled on Wednesday when three of his main partners snubbed a confidence vote he had called to try to end divisions and renew their fractious alliance.

He had tried to reassert his authority as parties began to pull in different directions before the planned end of the legislature in the first half of next year. Parliament’s five-year term would have expired in March 2023.

The political crisis has up-ended months of stability in Italy, during which Draghi had helped shape Europe’s tough response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and had boosted the country’s standing in financial markets.

The turmoil came as the eurozone’s third-largest economy battled a range of issues. Like many countries, Italy is facing soaring prices for everything from food to household utilities as a result of Moscow’s invasion.

On top of that, it is also suffering from a prolonged drought that is threatening crops, and it is struggling to implement its EU-financed pandemic recovery programme.

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