The former chief of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, has been sworn in as Italy’s prime minister at the head of a unity government called on to confront the coronavirus crisis and economic slump.
Draghi, a respected figure at home and internationally, managed to convince almost all of the country’s main parties to support his government, with leaders from the far-right League and populist Five Star Movement (M5S) adopting more moderate, pro-European tones in recent days.
Draghi’s appointment ends weeks of political turmoil triggered after Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva from a ruling coalition made up of M5S and the centre-left Democratic party due to clashes over how the government was planning to spend the €200bn-plus that Italy is poised to receive from the EU’s Covid-19 recovery fund. Renzi’s move led to Giuseppe Conte stepping down as prime minister.
Draghi, nicknamed “Super Mario” for his role in saving the euro, also has overwhelming support from the Italian press, which over the last week has feted him as “a new Italian miracle”.
The expectations that he will be able to reverse Italy’s fortunes are therefore as high as the stakes. Among his first major tasks will be to accelerate a vaccination programme as Italy strives to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far left 93,000 people dead, while at the same time rescuing the economy from the worst recession since the second world war.
If he prevails, Draghi is likely to bolster the entire eurozone, which has long fretted over Italy’s perennial problems. Success would also prove to Italy’s sceptical northern allies that by offering funds to the poorer south, they will fortify the entire bloc.
Draghi, 73, announced his cabinet, which contains a mix of political and technocratic ministers, to president Sergio Mattarella on Friday.
Some roles were reconfirmed, such as Luigi Di Maio as foreign minister, Roberto Speranza as health minister, Luciana Lamorgese as interior minister and Dario Franceschini as culture minister.
The economy ministry has gone to Daniele Franco, the current director-general of the Bank of Italy, and the justice ministry to Marta Cartabia, who until last September was president of the constitutional court.
The government – Italy’s third administration in less than three years – will face votes of confidence in both houses of parliament on Monday and Tuesday.