Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi won a confidence vote in the country’s Senate on Wednesday, but emerged badly bruised.
Despite his calls for unity, lawmakers from three parties boycotted the vote: the powerful 5-Star movement, which is the largest party in the country’s coalition government; center-right Forza Italia and the far-right League.
Draghi now leads a fractured government teetering on the brink of collapse, and is widely expected to step down.
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said the events represented “a black page for Italy,” in a tweet.
And former Prime Minister Enrico Letta criticized the outcome as “madness.”
“On this day of madness, Parliament decides to go against Italy,” he wrote on Twitter.
Earlier on Wednesday, Draghi had asked lawmakers to support the coalition government in an effort to avoid calling a snap election.
“We need a new pact of trust, sincere and concrete, like the one that has allowed us so far to change the country for the better,” he said.
“If we still want to stay together, the only way is to rebuild this (national unity) pact with courage, altruism, credibility,” the former European Central Bank chief added.
Another former premier, Matteo Renzi, thanked Draghi for his efforts after the vote.
“As I said in the Senate from tomorrow nothing will be the same again,” he wrote. “Proud of having wanted him against everything and everyone. Proud to have supported him even today.”
In order to resign, Draghi will have to offer his resignation to the country’s President Sergio Mattarella. The pair were not scheduled to meet on Wednesday, a presidential source told CNN.
Draghi has already tendered his resignation once, last week, after the 5-Star movement withdrew its support in a parliamentary confidence vote on a package designed to tackle Italy’s cost-of-living crisis.
He had previously said that he would not lead a government that did not include 5-Star.
Draghi’s resignation at the time however was rejected by Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella, who urged him to stay and find a solution.