BREAKING NEWS
This content is not available in your region

Italy politics: Former ECB chief Mario Draghi sworn in as prime minister

Access to the comments Comments
euronews_icons_loading
The 73-year-old will be focused on bringing Italy out of the coronavirus pandemic
The 73-year-old will be focused on bringing Italy out of the coronavirus pandemic   -   Copyright  Andrew Medichini/AP
Text size Aa Aa

Mario Draghi has been sworn in as Italy's new prime minister during a ceremony at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, bringing in a new era in Italian politics.

The former European Central Bank chief arrived three minutes early for the event, held under strict coronavirus precautions in the salone delle festa.

His new administration, consisting of a mix of technocrats and politicians, are now set to take office next week after a vote from both houses of the Italian parliament. This is expected to be a formality as a majority of lawmakers have already indicated they would support Draghi.

First and foremost on the agenda for the 73-year-old is to bring Italy out of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed 93,000 people and plunged the country into its deepest recession since the Second World War.

Known as Super Mario for his "whatever it takes" approach to the eurozone, his new government includes a mixture of people from almost all of the nation's parties. He has also enlisted the Bank of Italy's deputy governor Daniele Franco.

How the political crisis unfolded

Italy's government crisis was triggered last month when former prime minister Matteo Renzi's Italia Viva party withdrew its support from the coalition — which also comprised the left-wing populist Five Star Movement (MS5), the centre-right Democratic Party (PD) and a left-wing parliamentary group.

Although Italia Viva currently polls at around 3 per cent, its lawmakers were crucial to Conte, a lawyer who was first nominated prime minister in June 2018 by the coalition formed by MS5 and the far-right League party.

Conte resigned after surviving two confidence votes in the hope of being able to form a new coalition but failed.

Mattarella, who had previously said he is against calling new elections in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, then called on Draghi, 73, to try to form a coalition.

MS5, the largest political force in Italy's government, formally backed Draghi for prime minister on Thursday following an online ballot of its members in which 59.3 per cent of the 74,500 who took part voted in favour of a government helmed by the former European central banker.

Draghi had by then already secured the support of PD, the centre-right Forza Italia party of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Italia Viva, and the League — enough to win the confidence vote in both houses.

Who's on Draghi's team

Daniele Franco, 67, is to take the helm of the economy ministry. The deputy governor of the Bank of Italy, where Draghi was once governor, is considered one of the best experts on public finances on the peninsula.

Among the familiar faces are Luigi di Maio, a senior member of MS5, who remains Foreign Affairs Minister. Roberto Speranza, from the small left-wing LEU party, will continue to shepherd the country through the pandemic as Minister of Health, while Luciana Lamorgese, a technocrat, retains her role as Minister for Interior.

Draghi also announced the creation of a "super-ministry" for Ecological Transition. It will be led by renowned physicist Roberto Cingolani.

What's awaiting them

The economy will be the main focus for the government. Italy is the euro zone's third-largest economy but it has been ravaged by the pandemic, registering the worst fall in GDP in the euro area with an 8.9 per cent contraction in 2020

It currently has the euro zone's second-highest public debt behind Greece, amounting to 158 per cent of GDP.

The first task for the government will be to decide on how to spend the €209 billion the country will receive from the EU as part of the bloc's Recovery Plan to kickstart the economy. The government needs to present its plans to Brussels for approval in April. Disagreement over what should be prioritised and who should control the funds are what triggered the collapse of the coalition last month.

The pandemic will also continue to be front and centre. Italy is the worst impacted country in the EU with more than 93,000 deaths and 2.6 million confirmed cases.

Vaccinations, which the country initially rolled out fast have since slowed significantly due to delivery delays. More than 3.6 million have been administered at least one shot, with 1.2 million receiving the two jabs, according to figures from the Health Ministry.

The Gimbe Health Science Foundation said on Thursday the country needs "decisions to be taken quickly, because the progression of the virus and its variants is certainly not slowed down by the government crisis."