Italy's president dissolves parliament, triggering snap election following Draghi's resignation and a week of turmoil in the country.
Italy's President Sergio Mattarella has dissolved parliament, triggering early elections which could bring the hard right to power after the country's warring parties toppled reformer Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Dissolving parliament was always a last resort, Mattarella said on Thursday, but in this case a lack of consensus among the parties that had made up Draghi's national unity government made it "inevitable".
Italy was facing challenges, however, that could not be put on the backburner while the parties campaigned, he said.
There could be no "pauses in the essential interventions to combat the effects of the economic and social crisis and in particular the rise in inflation".
The snap poll is expected to take place in September or October, and Draghi will stay on as head of government until then.
'No more excuses'
Based on current polls, a rightist alliance led by Giorgia Meloni's far-right Brothers of Italy party would comfortably win a snap vote.
"No more excuses", tweeted Meloni, 45, who vociferously led the opposition throughout Draghi's term and has long called for fresh elections.
Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief, was parachuted into the premiership in 2021 as Italy wrestled with a pandemic and ailing economy.
On Wednesday, he attempted to save the government, urging his squabbling coalition to put aside their grievances for the sake of the country.
But three parties - Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia, Matteo Salvini's anti-immigrant League and the populist Five Star Movement - said it was no longer possible for them to work together.
The stunned centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which had supported Draghi, said its hopes were now pinned on Italians being "wiser than their MPs".
Italy's latest crisis was sparked when Five Star snubbed a key vote last week, despite warnings from Draghi that it would fatally undermine the coalition.
"Enough with Five Star craziness and PD power plays: Italians now get to choose", anti-immigrant Salvini tweeted Thursday.
Though Five Star triggered the crisis, it was Salvini who pushed Draghi under the metaphorical bus, political commentators said.
The former interior minister, who has been losing voters to Meloni, "saw an opportunity to regain his primacy, in the centre-right and within the League", editorialist Marco Damilano wrote in the Domani daily.
Draghi's downfall comes despite recent polls suggesting most Italians wanted him to stay at the helm until the scheduled general election next May.