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From left to right, Lega leader Matteo Salvini, Brothers leader Giorgia Meloni, and former Italian PM and Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi.

REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

How will the far right run Italy?

On Sept. 25, Italians head to the polls to vote in a snap parliamentary election triggered by the collapse of PM Mario Draghi's fragile coalition government in late July. Political instability and short-lived governments are nothing new in Italy, which has churned through 18 of them in the past 34 years. Now, though, an alliance of far-right parties is widely favored to win power for the first time since the end of World War II in a country with bitter memories of fascist rule. What will that government look like, and what can we expect from it? We asked Eurasia Group analyst Federico Santi.

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Italy Elections: Rightist & Center-Right forces Leading Opinion Polls | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

Europe's heat wave highlights climate & energy dependencies

Carl Bildt, former prime minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on European politics, from the Adriatic Sea.

What's going to be the fallout of the resignation of the Draghi government in Italy?

Quite substantial. I would suspect, Mario Draghi with his government, very broad government has given Italy credibility both in terms of economic policy management, reform policies, and foreign policy not the least on Ukraine, during quite some time. He was thrown out by the populist and the rightist parties for obscure reasons. And now there will be elections on September the 25th. What's going to come thereafter? We don't know. The rightist and the center-right forces are leading in opinion polls at the moment, but all bets are off.

How is Europe handling the heatwave and the energy crisis?

Yep, that's really what's dominating. The heat wave immediately, of course, primarily in the south of Europe, but it's also in other places, emphasizing the importance of the climate transition. But also all of the issues related to our energy dependence, primarily the gas dependence of Germany and a couple of other countries on Russia, are much of the focus of the politics of Europe in the middle of the summer.

Brothers of Italy leader Giorgia Meloni during a campaign rally in Rieti.

Riccardo Fabi via Reuters Connect

Is she Italy’s next prime minister?

After 17 months of relative stability, Italian politics has again become a roller-coaster ride, and a country that’s had 18 governments in 34 years will soon have another. With the collapse of Mario Draghi’s coalition, a new election will likely take place in September or October.

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Annie Gugliotta

What We're Watching: Draghi's departure, Russian annexation plans, two-way race for British PM

Draghi throws in the towel

Italy's embattled Prime Minister Mario Draghi finally stepped down on Thursday for a second time in a week, hours after winning a vote of confidence in the upper house of parliament on Wednesday evening. This time, President Sergio Mattarella didn't reject his resignation but asked him to continue as caretaker PM, presumably until a fresh election is held.

The vote of confidence was partly hijacked by mass abstentions from three of the top parties in his coalition: the populist 5-Star Movement, the far-right Lega, and the center-right Forza Italia. The no-shows broke Draghi’s hopes of keeping together a strong majority, and in the end he kept his promise to stay on as PM only if he held the coalition together. That was impossible since both Lega and Forza Italia wanted to ditch 5-Star, which they blame for the government’s collapse after rejecting Draghi's energy crisis relief plan.

The PM's departure puts an end to 18 months of a fragile unity coalition government, and ushers in a period of deep uncertainty for Italy and Europe at a critical time. Inflation and energy costs are both surging, and Draghi didn't have time to pass the reforms necessary to unlock EU pandemic relief funds. Also, the next government might be led by the Euroskeptic far-right party Brothers of Italy, out of the coalition and whose leader Georgia Meloni celebrated the exit of "Super Mario".

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Annie Gugliotta & Paige Fusco

Who’s running Italy?

Italy’s government has been thrown into a period of uncertainty. On Thursday, Prime Minister Mario Draghi offered to step down after the populist 5-Star Movement, one of the biggest parties in his coalition government, refused to back his 23 billion euro ($23.1 billion) energy crisis relief plan. But President Sergio Mattarella refused the resignation.

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Paige Fusco

Under-the-radar European elections

Over the past year, the biggest story in European politics has been its remarkable unity in response to crises. The EU plan for COVID recovery and the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have been much more cooperative and effective than the sometimes-ugly debates over managing the sovereign debt crisis of 2009-2010 or the migrant crisis of 2015-2016.

But political pressure is building on the continent. Inflationary pressures, exacerbated by continuing supply-chain disruptions, higher food and fuel costs provoked by the war, and ambitious plans to redraw Europe’s energy map and spend more on defense are stoking public fear that it’s all too much at once. How these concerns play out domestically in a few key countries could impact European unity and progress moving forward.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrive for security talks at the Hotel President Wilson.

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS

What We’re Watching: Ukraine diplomacy, India’s no-campaign election, Italian presidential conclave, Burkina Faso coup, Russia moves on crypto

Ukraine diplomatic blitz. The US and the UK have withdrawn some staff from their embassies in Kyiv, and NATO countries put more troops on standby amid an ongoing flurry of diplomacy to stop Russia from invading Ukraine. After playing defense for his boss over Joe Biden’s controversial remarks about Russia and Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of a severe response if any Russian forces cross the border. However, Blinken — who is trying to shore up a united front with Europe while keeping the Russian dialogue open — turned down Ukraine’s demand for preemptive sanctions against Russia. Also, the UK accused the Russians of planning to install a pro-Moscow leader in Kyiv. Meanwhile, on the ground both sides continue to beef up their military presence. While the first US weapons arrived in Ukraine, across the border Russia moved troops and equipment to Belarus, Ukraine’s northern neighbor and a staunch Moscow ally. Blinken is expected to continue talks this week with the Russians, but there’s an X factor: China. Xi Jinping, whom Vladimir Putin now calls his “old friend”, probably doesn’t want the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics to be marred by a hot war in Europe, so perhaps he’ll try to talk his pal out of an invasion.

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Who’s politically vulnerable to omicron?

The new COVID variant, omicron, has already spread around the world. Though there are more questions than answers about its characteristics, omicron is already spooking global leaders who had hoped that the era of snap lockdowns and travel bans was a thing of the past.

After almost two years of disruptions to lives and economies, the stakes for world leaders are very high. So, who’s vulnerable to the political fallout from new cases and costly precautions?

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