Italy’s President Summons Mario Draghi for Talks to Head New Government

ROME — President Sergio Mattarella of Italy announced late Tuesday that he had summoned the former head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, for talks on Wednesday, shortly after calling on Parliament to back a “high profile” nonpolitical government to lead the country out of the coronavirus emergency.

The decision signaled the ouster of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who had guided Italy since 2018, at the head of two ideologically opposed governments.

Mr. Mattarella’s decision followed a meeting Tuesday evening with the speaker of the lower house, Roberto Fico, who had been tasked last week to determine whether Italy’s bickering center-left majority could overcome a vast array of political differences that had led to the collapse last month of Mr. Conte’s 17-month-old government.

Mr. Fico advised the Italy’s president that he had failed in his efforts to stitch up the rift that had led a former prime minister, Matteo Renzi, to pull the support of his party, Italia Viva, from the government in January, leaving it without a majority.

Given that news, Mr. Mattarella was faced with two options: calling new elections or appointing a technical government that could muster broad support in Parliament.

Mr. Mattarella said that he discarded the option of new elections because the campaign “would coincide with a critical moment for Italy’s fate” in terms of handling the pandemic, the vaccine rollout and a dire social and economic situation.

“We cannot afford to miss this fundamental chance for our future,” Mr. Mattarella said, referring to the over 200 billion euros, or $241 billion, in pandemic aid that the European Union had allocated to Italy and that the next government would be responsible for spending.

Shortly before Mr. Fico officially threw in the towel on Tuesday in trying to reassemble the former partners in the majority, some of the coalition’s leaders made their grievances public. Mr. Renzi took to Twitter to level criticisms against Mr. Conte’s government, from how it had handled the vaccine rollout to its approach to school reopenings.

Vito Crimi, the political leader of the populist Five Star Movement, which has propped up Mr. Conte since winning a plurality of votes in the 2018 elections, countered that from the start, Mr. Renzi had shown little inclination to coming to an agreement, and was instead focused on getting “more ministries” and power for his party.

“Matteo Renzi started to veto everything,” Mr. Crimi added, putting his own interests, “before the interests of the country.”

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