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Italy’s 5Stars present Draghi with list of demands

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ROME — Giuseppe Conte, leader of the 5Star Movement, has handed Prime Minister Mario Draghi a list of demands — including a minimum wage — to ensure continued support for the coalition government.

Draghi and former Prime Minister Conte met for a face-to-face meeting following recent tensions in the governing coalition that forced Draghi to return early to Rome from a NATO summit in Madrid.

Conte had accused Draghi of trying to kick the 5Stars out of the coalition over their opposition to sending more arms to Ukraine. The Movement itself split two weeks ago over the dispute.

During the talks Conte presented Draghi with a document containing nine requests including the introduction of a minimum wage and protection of the 5Stars’ flagship welfare payments, as well as a budget adjustment to free up more resources to help with the cost of living crisis and inflation.

Leaving the meeting Conte said that the 5Stars wanted to stay in government. He said: We are available to share the responsibility of government, we have always been loyal and constructive, but we need a strong signal of discontinuity.”

Later on Wednesday, he told journalists that the 5Stars need “precise and decisive responses which can constitute valid reasons to convince us to continue supporting the Draghi government.” He said he did not expect answers immediately, but by the end of July.

President of the Five Star Movement (M5S), former Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte | Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images

The document said that the 5Stars had “accumulated profound political discomfort” as part of the Draghi government and had experienced attacks by their coalition partners. There was a need for “a clarifying discussion,” it said.

A government official said that the meeting was “constructive.”

“Draghi is looking at the requests, some of which seem to be in continuity with the existing government’s policies,” the official added.

With elections predicted early in 2023, the governing parties, who have been losing ground to the opposition as part of a grand coalition, are attempting to increase their visibility by asserting their differences.

But Daniele Albertazzi, professor of politics at the University of Surrey, said that the government was likely to remain intact at least until the autumn.

“I expect Draghi can accommodate at least some of their requests,” he said. “There are things that are simple to do like confirm that the welfare measures will stay and announce a renewal of action on the green economy. It should be enough for him to stay.”

“Conte is in an impossible situation. He has to address the unhappiness of his MPs and party members but I don’t think he can leave yet because Italy is still waiting for the second tranche of EU pandemic recovery money and the budget has to be passed in the autumn,” Albertazzi said.

Leaving now would also mean the end of its alliance with the Democratic Party, an alliance which the 5Stars likely need to survive, he said, given that support for the 5Stars has fallen by more than half since the 2018 elections.

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