Italian Prime Minister-designate Mario Draghi has secured initial support from two key parties as he tries to form a government to take the country out of its current political crisis.
The overtures came from the populist 5-Star Movement and the right-wing League, who said they were ready to put aside bitter rivalries for the good of the country, raising the prospect of government of national unity.
"We are available. We are the leading political force in the country, we are a force which should govern," Matteo Salvini, leader of the League and former interior minister, said after a meeting with Draghi.
"In contrast to others, we believe that we cannot make progress if we always say no," he added, in reference to the far-right Brothers of Italy party which has said it intends to remain in opposition.
“We are ready to overcome everything in the interest of the country,” said Vito Crimi, leader of the 5-Star Movement which won most votes in the last parliamentary election in 2018 and was a key element of both Conte governments.
Salvini, a former interior minister in Conte's first government, noted that he would be sitting alongside politicians who voted to lift his parliamentary immunity so he could be put on trial in Sicily for not allowing migrant rescue ships disembark in Italy when he was minister.
Known as "Super Mario" for his role in saving the eurozone amid the debt crisis in 2012 as head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi was called upon by President Sergio Mattarella after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Conte quit following the withdrawal of his coalition partner Italia Viva from the government. But the small party of Matteo Renzi, another former prime minister, has indicated his support for a Draghi-led government, along with the Democratic Party (PD), former Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the small Free and Equal party.
The centre-left PD has however hinted it does not want to enter the government if cabinet posts are accorded to the hard-right League.
A new government will be charged with deciding how to spend more than €200 billion in European Union funds to help relaunch Italy's pandemic-ravaged economy. The third largest in the eurozone, it suffered a fall in GDP (gross national product) of 8.9% last year.
"I would rather be in the room where it is decided if the money is used well or not, instead of being on the outside," Salvini said.
Draghi, 73, completed a first round of talks with political parties this week. He also is expected to meet with unions, business lobbies and other members of civil society.
Should he fail to secure a parliamentary majority, early elections could follow, probably in June. But President Mattarella made it clear in the week that he wished to avoid such an outcome in the middle of a health and economic crisis.