Italy’s anti-establishment 5-Star Movement said on Monday (8 February) 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.
5-Star, the largest party in parliament, had initially ruled out backing Draghi. But after meeting him on Saturday its leader Vito Crimi said he was open to consider supporting Draghi on the basis of the policies he proposes.
The vote will begin on Wednesday at 1 p.m. (1200 GMT) and will end 24 hours later, 5-Star’s official website said.
After the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte due to a coalition rupture, Italy’s head of state asked 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 5-Star vote before reporting back to President Sergio Mattarella.
The 5-Star vote could be close, opinion polls suggest. A survey by the Ipsos agency for daily Corriere della Sera last week showed 55% of 5-Star voters wanted the party to back Draghi, against 40% who opposed him.
However, the online vote, to be held on 5-Star’s internet platform dubbed Rousseau, will involve only signed up-members, a much smaller number of hard-core followers.
Holding online votes on important issues is standard practice for 5-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 5-Star’s top brass, but not always. In 2019, members rejected a call from the then-party chief Luigi Di Maio to pull 5-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 Draghi and said on Monday it would be “absolutely and totally a mistake” for 5-Star to support him.
To secure an outright majority in both houses of parliament, Draghi needs the backing of either the 5-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 Draghi.