Italy's 5-Star members vote over Draghi as political crisis nears end

Angelo Amante
·2-min read

By Angelo Amante

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement began voting on Thursday on whether to support a cabinet led by former European Central Bank head Mario Draghi, in what could be one of the final steps before a new government is formed.

Draghi, who received the mandate to lead a new cabinet after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned, has held two rounds of talks with parties to pull together an administration.

A host of groups from left to right pledged to support him and he would not need the 5-Star votes to have a majority in both houses of parliament.

However, the backing of the largest group in parliament would help Draghi building a broader coalition able to face the country's twin economic and coronavirus crises.

The 5-Star leadership is urging members to vote yes, saying the party has to lead the recovery of Italy, which expects to receive more than 200 billion euros ($242.56 billion) from a European Union fund to revive the economy.

"We have to participate in this new government to defend the policies we introduced in recent years and invest well the EU funds," said 5-Star outgoing Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.

Some 119,600 members will be able to vote until 6 p.m. (1700 GMT) on the Rousseau online platform on whether to back a coalition government which will include a high-powered ministry for ecological transition, one of the key 5-Star demands.

Results are expected after 7 p.m., the 5-Star official website said.

Such consultation is usual in the 5-Star for such a major decision and it was initially expected for Wednesday, but party leadership was forced to postpone it due to internal turmoil.

The 5-Star Movement was born as a euro-protest party and despite its shift to more moderate positions in recent years some of its members are uneasy at the prospect of backing a former ECB chief.

Politicians expect Draghi to see President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella before the end of Friday to confirm he has sufficient backing to form a government and to present a list of ministers.