181124 Mario Draghi 2
Mario Draghi Image Credit: Reuters

Rome: Italy's President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday refused to accept Prime Minister Mario Draghi's resignation, in a political crisis which experts warned could lead the eurozone's third largest economy to snap elections.

Mattarella "did not accept the resignation, and invited the prime minister to appear before parliament to make a statement," the presidential palace said, amid reports Draghi would address parliament next week to see if he has the necessary majority to stay on.

Political uncertainty 

Earlier on Wednesday, Mario Draghi said he would resign as Italian prime minister on Thursday, after a party in his ruling coalition did not participate in a confidence vote.

"I will tender my resignation to the president of the republic this evening," Draghi told the cabinet, according to a statement released by his office.

"The national unity coalition that backed this government no longer exists," added Draghi, the former European Central Bank president who has been prime minister of a broad coalition since February 2021.

The confidence vote had become a focal point for tensions within Draghi's government as its parties prepare to fight each other in a national election due by early 2023.

The decision by the 5-Star party to boycott the confidence vote on Thursday had plunged Italy into political uncertainty and risked undermining efforts to secure billions of euros in European Union funds, tackle a damaging drought and reduce its reliance on Russian gas.

Draghi raised the stakes by saying he would not want to lead a government without 5-Star, who emerged as the largest party in the previous election in 2018 but have since suffered defections and a loss of public support.

It could lead to national elections as early as September or October after other coalition parties said there should be a vote if 5-Star no longer backed the government.