Di Maio hails decision to back Draghi as Di Battista steps aside.
Members of Italy's populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) have voted almost 60 per cent in favour of premier-designate Mario Draghi, paving the way for the formation of a broad government of national unity.
The "dramatic" decision was hailed as "brave" and "mature" by M5S bigwig Luigi Di Maio, however the move was not supported by another leading light in the movement, Alessandro Di Battista, who has chosen to "step aside."
"My political conscience can't take it anymore," said Di Battista on Facebook, leading to talks of a split in the party.
The vote to back the former European Central Bank boss, and "choose the European path" as Di Maio put it, represents a major turn-around for the once fiercely anti-establishment movement.
It also reflects another unexpected decision by the right-wing Lega party, led by Matteo Salvini, who has thrown his support behind Draghi's efforts to form a new coalition.
Salvini’s endorsement of Draghi comes after years of anti-European rhetoric and marks a potential new direction for the eurosceptic Lega.
Since receiving the mandate from Italy's president Sergio Mattarella to form a new cabinet, following the demise of the last coalition led by Giuseppe Conte, Draghi has secured the endorsement of almost all Italy's political parties.
Draghi, one of Italy's most respected institutional figures, is expected to present his list of ministers to Mattarella today - reports Reuters - and unveil his policy programme next week in parliament.
Draghi's two immediate priorities will be tackling the covid-19 pandemic and dealing with the worst economic turmoil in Italy since world war two.
Photo Giuseppe Ciccia / IPA. Credit: Sipa USA
La responsabilità è il prezzo della grandezza.
Oggi i nostri iscritti hanno dimostrato ancora una volta grande maturità, lealtà verso le istituzioni e senso di appartenenza al Paese.
— Luigi Di Maio (@luigidimaio) February 11, 2021