Five Star to poll members on backing Draghi for Italian PM

Online vote of signed-up members of largest party in parliament could be close

Mario Draghi. Photograph: Angelo Carcon/EPA

Mario Draghi. Photograph: Angelo Carcon/EPA

 

Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement said on Monday it would consult members on whether it should back a government led by former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, increasing the uncertainty over the make-up of his coalition.

Five Star, the largest party in parliament, had initially ruled out backing Mr Draghi. But after meeting him on Saturday its leader, Vito Crimi, said he was open to consider supporting Mr Draghi on the basis of the policies he proposes.

The vote will begin on Wednesday and will end 24 hours later, Five Star’s official website said.

After the resignation of prime minister Giuseppe Conte due to a coalition rupture, Italy’s head of state asked Mr Draghi last week to try to form a government with broad parliamentary backing.

He is currently holding a second round of talks with political parties to try to muster a majority and put together a cabinet. These are due to end on Tuesday.

It is unclear whether he will wait until the results of the Five Star vote before reporting back to President Sergio Mattarella.

The Five Star vote could be close, opinion polls suggest. A survey by the Ipsos agency for daily Corriere della Sera last week showed 55 per cent of Five Star voters wanted the party to back Mr Draghi, with 40 per cent opposed.

However, the online vote, to be held on Five Star’s internet platform dubbed Rousseau, will involve only signed-up members, a much smaller number of hardcore followers.

Online votes

Holding online votes on important issues is standard practice for Five Star, reflecting its credo of direct democracy, and it followed such procedures to decide whether to participate in the last two governments.

The results normally reflect the recommendation of Five Star’s top brass, but not always. In 2019 members rejected a call from the then-party chief Luigi Di Maio to pull Five Star out of upcoming regional elections.

Moreover, on this occasion the party is split. One of its most popular figures, Alessandro Di Battista, is particularly hostile to Mr Draghi and said on Monday it would be “absolutely and totally a mistake” for Five Star to support him.

To secure an outright majority in both houses of parliament, Mr Draghi needs the backing of either the Five Star or Matteo Salvini’s rightist and traditionally eurosceptic League, the second-largest group in parliament.

The centre-left Democratic Party, Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia and Matteo Renzi’s centrist Italia Viva have guaranteed their backing for Mr Draghi.