Mario Draghi’s Italian government is under severe pressure from one of its main supporters, the Cinque Stelle Movement (M5S). The governing coalition has been under deep strain for several weeks, particularly because of its official position on the Ukrainian conflict. Mario Draghi has chosen a line of total support for Ukraine—a position which is not unanimously supported by the Italian population and the M5S.
On Tuesday, June 21st, a fraction of this party, led by Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, seceded. 62 deputies left the Movement to found a new formation, Insieme per Il Futuro (Together for the Future), which is openly Atlanticist and pro-Ukraine. Luigi Di Maio supports Draghi’s policy, and is opposed to the president of the M5S, Giuseppe Conte, who has been advocating a diplomatic solution for several weeks and warns against the risk of escalating the conflict.
On Wednesday, June 22nd, the secession within the M5S had no effect on the vote requested by Draghi in support of his foreign policy. Supporters of both Conte and Di Maio appeared united, and Draghi won confidence by 410 votes in favour to only 29 votes against. Despite his scepticism about sending more arms to Ukraine, Giuseppe Conte chose to support Draghi in this vote so as not to weaken the government, which has inevitably been shaken by Di Maio’s secession. Italian politics is made up of subtle power plays and balances that do not always intersect with clear ideological options. For his part, Draghi made full use of the context to obtain this favourable vote, claiming that not supporting his policy was tantamount to encouraging Ukraine to surrender.
Despite the June 22nd vote, the coalition of parties that allows Draghi to remain in power can only be weakened by these movements. The M5S has been participating in the various governments for four years, within the coalitions that have succeeded one another in office. But it is gradually losing popularity and is undermined by opposing factions. The party’s results in the June 2022 local elections were particularly bad.
The secession of Di Maio’s supporters leads to a change in the balance of power in the Italian parliament. The M5S loses its status as the largest parliamentary force. Without Di Maio’s support, the M5s has gone from 155 to 105 deputies, and from 72 to 61 senators. It has also lost five of the eleven undersecretaries and deputy ministers it had under the quotas granted to the Movement. In the meantime, the sovereignist Lega party, led by Matteo Salvini, has become the de facto largest party in Parliament. It is now the largest group in the Chamber, boasting 132 members and on a par with the M5s with 61 Senators.
Now more than ever, Matteo Salvini is essential to the maintenance of the Draghi government, and is under pressure from his right-wing ally, Fratelli d’Italia, led by Giorgia Meloni, who wants him to leave the government coalition. The risk of a break-up of the governmental coalition upon which Draghi depends has never been greater.