Italian PM resigns after coalition deserts him

STORY: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi resigned on Thursday (July 21) after his national unity government fell apart.

Draghi tendered his resignation in a meeting with President Sergio Mattarella.

The unelected former central banker has led a broad coalition for 18 months.

Mattarella's office said he'd "taken note" of the resignation and asked Draghi to stay on as caretaker.

Political sources said earlier this week Mattarella would probably dissolve parliament and call an early election in October.

A bloc of conservative parties, led by the far-right Brothers of Italy, would likely win a clear majority, a study of opinion polls showed this week.

Draghi's coalition crumbled on Wednesday (July 20) when three of his main partners snubbed a confidence vote he had called to try to end divisions and renew their fractious alliance.

The political crisis has up-ended months of stability in Italy, during which Draghi helped shape Europe's tough response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and boosted the country's standing in financial markets.

"It really isn't the right moment for a government crisis. This should have been the moment to get back on our feet, not the moment to stop. Let's hope everything goes well and the problem will be resolved."

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