Mario Draghi is set to become Italy’s prime minister with an overwhelming parliamentary majority after supporters of the Five Star Movement voted in favour of joining his forthcoming national unity government.
The results of an online poll of rank-and-file supporters of the single largest party in Italy’s parliament showed that almost 60 per cent backed supporting a new coalition led by the former president of the European Central Bank.
The result gives Draghi, who last week was asked by Italy’s president to form a unity government to lead the country out of the pandemic, the support of almost every political party in Italy and will allow the former ECB chief to take office with a broad consensus of support.
The one-time anti-euro party’s leaders had pledged to follow the direction of its members expressed in the online vote.
All large parties in Italy apart from the far-right Brothers of Italy party are now expected to join Draghi’s new coalition, which is expected to be announced by the end of this week.
Out of 74,537 votes cast on the online platform 44,177, or 59.3 per cent, voted in favour of supporting a Draghi government and 30,360, or 40.7 per cent, voted against.
Since Draghi entered Italian politics senior figures within the Five Star Movement, which began life as an online protest group targeted at the Italian political establishment, have been split over whether to back a new technocratic government.
Faced with the decision, the Five Star Movement leadership decided to put the matter to members in an online vote held on the party’s Rousseau member platform, as it has done for important turning points in the party’s direction in the past.
Immediately after the vote Luigi Di Maio, a former leader of the party representing its moderate wing and Italy’s outgoing foreign minster, praised the result as showing “great maturity, loyalty to institutions and a sense of belonging to the country”.
Particularly galling for those on the party’s radical wing has been the prospect of joining a coalition government alongside Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which has already pledged to support Draghi.
Berlusconi had become a symbol of Italy’s political establishment that the Five Star Movement had railed against when it first entered parliament in 2013.
Ahead of the online vote Alessandro Di Battista, one of the party’s highest profile activists, had said: “Berlusconi’s CV requires us to say no to the new government.”