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Italy heads to early election after coalition fails

ROME (AP) – Italy is headed for an early election after its president accepted Premier Mario Draghi’s resignation on Thursday and decided there was no possibility for cobbling together another government following the rapid collapse of the ruling coalition.

The demise of Draghi’s coalition in the eurozone’s third-largest economy and the uncertainty of what Italian voters will decide at the polls have dealt a destabilising blow to the country and Europe amid rising inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Dissolving Parliament “is always the last choice to make, especially if, as in this moment, there are important tasks to carry to completion”, President Sergio Mattarella said in a brief speech at the presidential Quirinal Palace, where Draghi had tendered his resignation hours earlier.

Mattarella’s office said the election will be held on September 25. He appealed to political parties in their campaigning to keep in mind “the superior interests” of the nation. Citing soaring food and energy prices, he noted that those suffering the most are always the weakest in society.

“The period we are going through doesn’t allow for any pause in determining interventions to contrast the economic and social crisis, and in particular the increase in inflation, which brings heavy consequences for families and businesses,” he said.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella announces he has dissolved the Italian Parliament after Premier Mario Draghi had confirmed his resignation. PHOTO: AP

Draghi was staying on at Mattarella’s request in a caretaker role, ensuring the government can carry out basic measures in the months before a new coalition is in place.

But with Italy’s often-squabbling political parties, it could be weeks beyond that before a new government is in place.

After 2018 elections for Parliament, it took 90 days before a new government was sworn in.

Parliament’s five-year term would have expired in March 2023, so the election would be held barely six months ahead of time.

Mattarella noted the bad timing for the nation and the continent. But he said he had no choice after Wednesday evening, when three key parties in Draghi’s “unity” coalition refused to renew support in a confidence vote.

Mattarella had rejected a similar resignation offer from Draghi a week earlier.

Instability in Italy could ripple through Europe, also facing economic problems.