Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi travelled to Kyiv alongside the leaders of France and Germany little over a month ago. They cracked jokes about how the French president had the best accommodations throughout the 10-hour flight. In addition, they reaffirmed their support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. Men huddled around a wooden conference table in a cabin brought to mind the clubby method of crisis management used during World War II.
Because of his prominence and reputation, Mario Draghi was able to elevate his nation, which was beset by debt and political instability, to the status of equal partner with Europe’s most significant powers. The former president of the European Central Bank, as well as his unwavering belief that Russia’s conflict was an existential threat to Europe and its ideals, were critical to that accomplishment.
A multi-flanked populist insurrection, fueled by an opportune power grab, deposed Mr. Draghi’s administration earlier this week. All of this is now in doubt. Voters in Italy will go to the polls in September, and surveys predict that a hard-right nationalist and populist combination is expected to prevail.
The collapse of Mr. Draghi already represents the demise of the establishment that populist movements throughout Europe aspire to. Beyond Italy’s borders, this has sparked concerns about just how resilient these groups are still on the continent and what harm an Italian government more sympathetic to Russia and less committed to the European Union could do to Western unity at a time when the West is facing its greatest set of security and economic challenges since the Cold War.
Gianfranco Pasquino, professor emeritus of political science at Bologna University, remarked that the resignation of Mario Draghi was a “serious challenge” for Europe and a “difficult blow.” A firm stance against Russian aggression in Ukraine was taken by Mr. Draghi. European unity would suffer since the next prime minister is likely to be less confident that Russia is to blame for the conflict.”
The fact that Former President Obama, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and others offered Mr. Draghi their backing before his demise should have answered any questions about where European leaders stand on Italy’s power struggle.
According to a source close to Mr. Draghi, Prime Minister Antonio Costa of Portugal emailed him to thank him for contemplating his resignation when he made his last-ditch plea to Italy’s warring parties on Wednesday.
Now that Mr. Macron is mourning the passing of a “Great Italian statesman,” Europeans are nervous about what may happen next.
When you consider where he began, Mr. Draghi’s shift in Italy’s stance toward Russia is all the more astonishing. Italy has one of the strongest ties to Russia in Western Europe. It was home to the biggest Communist Party in Western Europe during the Cold War, and Italy was reliant on Russian gas for more than 40% of its needs.
He made it his job to disrupt that trend.. He took use of his close connection with Janet Yellen, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, to lead the charge against the Russian Central Bank with sanctions.
Pressured supporters, including Mr. Macron, to accept that Ukraine should one day join the European Union via his public comments.
During the last days of his administration, Mr. Draghi travelled to Algeria to announce a gas agreement that would see Algeria replace Russia as Italy’s primary supplier of gas.
Conservatives, hard-right populists, and nationalists saw a chance to seize power and went for the kill, sparking a mutiny inside his own coalition against the ailing Five Star Movement, an anti-establishment party.
In a vote of no confidence, they turned on Mario Draghi and voted him out. As long as voters do not penalise them for toppling one of Italy’s most successful and competent governments in years, they might win the next election.
There was no sense of spontaneity in the alliance’s manoeuvres.
For hours on end in the mogul’s Appian Way mansion before to the referendum, League leader Matteo Salvini sat with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to strategize.
G. Meloni, the head of a post-fascist-rooted political group, claimed she talked to Berlusconi a few days previously and that the Italian prime minister had asked her to the meeting, but she declined because she felt it was best to meet after the vote. It was only after Mario Draghi’s statement in parliament that she revealed she talked with Matteo Salvini on the phone.
When asked about Salvini and Berlusconi’s decision to ditch Draghi and bring the government to a halt, she stated, “I didn’t want them to be compelled to do what they did.”
Each member of the coalition stands to earn something from it. Right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini, once Italy’s most popular politician, has seen his popularity drop since joining Mario Draghi’s cabinet, while Silvia Meloni has snatched furious opposition support and has replaced him as the country’s emerging political star. Berlusconi, who is 85 years old and now a political wasteland, served both parties well and had the potential to go back to power on their coattails.
More over half of Americans back them both, according to recent surveys.
Many critics of Russia are alarmed by this development. His party has inked a cooperation agreement with Mr. Putin’s Russia United party, and Mr. Salvini donned shirts with Mr. Putin’s visage on them when visiting Moscow’s Red Square.
Some observers believe that Ms. Meloni’s position on Ukraine is a clever ploy to separate herself from Mr. Salvini and make her a more palatable candidate for prime minister.