Mario Draghi signals he’ll stay as Italy’s PM, but issues ultimatum

ROME — Mario Draghi said Wednesday that he would be willing to stay on as Italian prime minister — because the Italian people were asking him to.

But for that to happen, Draghi made clear that Italy’s governing coalition parties must be willing to get into line.

In a speech Wednesday in the Italian Senate, Draghi said that the agreement of trust between the governing majority was broken and the coalition had been “ground down” — but added he had been moved by the “unprecedented” appeals from ordinary Italians in recent days for him to stay.

The Italian prime minister highlighted some of his conditions for staying on, including support for his program of EU-mandated reforms, accelerating the green transition, aid for the cost-of-living crisis, introduction of a minimum wage and improving welfare payments. Draghi also made it clear he intends to keep arming Ukraine, a divisive issue, particularly for the 5Stars.

The parties now have all afternoon to debate Draghi’s speech, before he will respond and likely call a confidence vote, if it is clear that the parties support him.

Draghi added that Italy needs a “strong and cohesive government” supported by “a sincere and concrete agreement of trust.”

“The only way if we still want to stay together is to rebuild this pact anew, with courage, altruism, credibility. The Italian people in particular are asking for this,” he said.

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Draghi offered to resign last week after the 5Star Movement, one of the parties in his coalition, boycotted a critical confidence vote. But after President Sergio Mattarella rejected his resignation, Draghi agreed to make a last-ditch attempt to save the coalition.

Draghi said the decision to offer his resignation “was very difficult but necessary” but as a non-elected prime minister of a government of national unity, he believed that he needs wide support among coalition partners for legitimacy and last week’s contentious confidence vote “cannot be ignored.”