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Italian Premier Draghi resignation rebuffed

ROME (AP) – Italian Premier Mario Draghi offered to step down on Thursday after a populist coalition partner refused to vote for a key bill in Parliament, but the nation’s president quickly rebuffed him, leaving one of Western Europe’s main leaders at the helm for now.

The rejection of the tendered resignation left in limbo the future of Draghi’s 17-month-old government, officially known as a national unity coalition, but with its survival sorely tested by increasingly sharp divergences within the coalition.

Draghi’s broad coalition government – which includes parties from the right, the left, the centre and the populist 5-Star Movement – was designed to help Italy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Hours earlier on Thursday, Draghi and his government won a confidence vote, 172-39, in the Senate despite the refusal by the 5-Star Movement to back the bill, which earmarked EUR26 billion to help consumers and industries with soaring energy prices.

But the dramatic snub did its damage.

Shortly before heading to the Quirinal presidential palace to tender his resignation, Draghi declared, “The majority of national unity that has sustained this government from its creation doesn’t exist any more.”

But President Sergio Mattarella told Draghi to instead go back to Parliament and see if he can still garner solid support, a palace statement said.

Italian Premier Mario Draghi. PHOTO: AP