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Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi resigns despite surviving a no confidence vote

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Italy's president has dissolved parliament and called for early elections to be held by the end of September. This follows the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who failed to get all his coalition members to support him in a confidence vote. Adam Raney reports from Rome.

(APPLAUSE)

ADAM RANEY, BYLINE: His coalition government has come crashing down. But Mario Draghi still received a hero's sendoff, giving a speech today before handing in his resignation to the president. The former head of the European Central Bank, once called Super Mario for his work to save the euro, was clearly moved.

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PRIME MINISTER MARIO DRAGHI: (Speaking Italian).

RANEY: He said even central bankers have their hearts touched sometimes, and he thanked the members of Parliament for all the work they've done together during his time in government. Draghi led a government for less than 18 months. Many leaders across Europe saw him as a steady hand to help pull Italy and maybe even the whole continent out of the pandemic. He helped steer billions of euros of EU recovery funds to Italy and was a leading voice in Europe's support of Ukraine against Russia. But in the end, he couldn't manage the diverse coalition of parties in his national unity government. By Thursday evening, a somber President Sergio Mattarella came out to speak to the nation, announcing a 70-day timeline for snap elections. He was clearly not happy.

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PRESIDENT SERGIO MATTARELLA: (Speaking Italian).

RANEY: He said the early dissolving of parliament is always a last-resort option, particularly, he said, as it is the case in this period, when the parliament has so many important tasks to complete in the interests of their country. The crisis started last week, when Draghi faced a confidence vote. He won that. But a member of his coalition government, the Five Star Movement, boycotted the vote because they felt ignored by Draghi. So the prime minister offered his resignation for the first time, which the country's president rejected. But when a second confidence vote was held yesterday, this adept central banker couldn't play the political game well enough to get everyone on board. Three parties refused to take part in the confidence vote. This time, his resignation was accepted.

President Mattarella has asked Draghi to head a caretaker government. While some are lamenting Draghi's eventual departure, one party - the far-right-wing Brothers of Italy - is thrilled. Currently leading in the polls, it is expected to win more seats than any other party. Some political analysts are already predicting how the party might rule if they lead a right-wing coalition after elections.

LORENZO CASTELLANI: What we can expect is a tougher approach on immigration.

RANEY: That's Lorenzo Castellani, a historian at Rome's Luiss University.

CASTELLANI: So following the path of the other right-wing parties in Europe and the conservatives and the Republicans in the United States, a law-and-order model.

RANEY: Andrea Delmastro, a member of the party who serves in parliament, says the Brothers of Italy just want what's best for Italians.

ANDREA DELMASTRO: (Through interpreter) Look. It's very simple. From the policies for the family to the fight against illegal immigration to the industrial plan for Italy to an approach to reduce the tax burden to free the energies of Italian production, Brothers of Italy has a cohesive program with the entire center right.

RANEY: After years on the periphery, Italy's latest political crisis may just give this right-wing party an opening to show what it will do with power. For NPR News, I'm Adam Raney in Rome.

(SOUNDBITE OF VINA LOVE SONG, "MY CITY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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