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The increase in military spending to 2% opens a political crisis in Italy

Mario Draghi, this Tuesday during an act in Naples. / EP

The Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, meets with the President of the Republic after the 5-Star Movement refuses to increase investment in Defense

MINOR DARIO Correspondent in Rome

The increase in military spending to 2% of GDP, as requested by NATO member countries, has opened a political crisis in Italy with an uncertain outcome. The Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, held a meeting with the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, on Tuesday night to inform him of the difficulties he has encountered in the coalition that supports the Executive to carry out the increase in the defense investment.

It is in particular the 5 Star Movement (M5E), the largest party in Parliament and part of the government alliance, which refuses to increase public spending in this sector instead of dedicating those resources to curbing the rise in energy prices or health investments. With this position, this political force with a transversal ideology and that in its beginnings made populism one of its hook pennants, is trying to gain visibility at a time when the polls place it at 13% in voting intention, almost 20 points less than at the beginning of the legislature, in 2018.

Draghi went to the Quirinal Palace, where the Presidency of the Republic is based, to meet with Mattarella after having a difficult meeting in Rome with Giuseppe Conte, former Prime Minister and leader of the M5E. He told the head of government that there are other “priority issues” in the face of the increase in military spending and asked that this increase, in any case, be linked to the development of a “political plan at the level of the European Union” in this area.

coalition survival

Conte’s refusal may endanger the very survival of the coalition that supports the Executive. Sources from the Prime Minister’s Cabinet assured that at such a delicate moment for Europe due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “the commitments assumed” with NATO cannot be discussed. They even warned that if the M5E does not end up giving in to the increase to 2% of GDP “the pact that keeps the coalition alive will fail.”

The reaction of the leader of the M5E causes concern in the other political forces that are part of the government alliance. Sources from the Democratic Party (PD, center-left), acknowledged the concern of its leader, Enrico Letta, while Matteo Renzi, from the small Italia Viva formation, went further by commenting in a message posted on social networks: ¬ęDraghi is a statesman, Conte is a populist. We are with Draghi, we are with Italy.”

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