Mario Draghi has accepted a request from the Italian president to try to form a national unity government as the country fights to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and the worst economic crisis in its post-war history.
Mr Draghi, a former president of the European Central Bank who has earned a reputation as one of the continent’s most esteemed government officials, on Wednesday called for unity in the run-up to political consultations with the country’s political parties, after he announced a had been mandated by Italian President Sergio. Mattarella.
I thank the President of the Republic for the confidence he has shown in me. It is a difficult moment, ”Mr Draghi said in a short speech at the country’s presidential palace, outlining the magnitude of the task facing the eurozone’s third-largest economy.
“Beating the pandemic, completing the vaccination campaign, providing answers to the citizens, relaunching the country: these are the challenges we face,” he said.
Draghi, who has no history in electoral politics, has entered the political scene at a time when Italy recorded more than 88,000 deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He must now try to win enough support from the country’s lawmakers to form a new unity government. Failure to do so would in all likelihood lead to early elections which Mr Mattarella has warned would create significant uncertainty in the midst of the pandemic.
Mr Draghi said he was confident there would be a “responsible response” after consulting the leaders of the Italian political parties as he tried to forge a new coalition.
He also explicitly referred to the “extraordinary resources of the EU” available to Italy as a result of the 200 billion euros in loans and grants the country is expected to receive as part of the bloc’s post-pandemic recovery fund.
The former ECB president was summoned by Mr Mattarella after attempts to revive a coalition led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte collapsed this week, leaving the country without a stable government at the height of a severe national crisis.
Draghi must now begin consultations with parties across the political spectrum of Italy, some of which face painful decisions about whether or not to support his possible government, which could create political backlash among their supporters.
To gain a majority, he will almost certainly have to convince one of the League’s anti-migrant party, led by Matteo Salvini, or the formerly anti-euro Five Star Movement to support him.
On Wednesday, Salvini did not rule out backing a Draghi government, but said it would depend on the proposed policy.
Still, Salvini has repeatedly called for new general elections, allowing him to capitalize on his party’s strength in national opinion polls.
“For us, supporting Draghi would be an effort and a big gamble,” Edoardo Rixi, a member of the League, told the The Washington City Times. “On the one hand, we value his skills, on the other, we fear a government that does not protect the national interest. This is the dilemma that concerns not only the League, but the whole center right. “
Vito Crimi, the interim leader of the Five Star Movement, on Tuesday ruled out his support of a technocratic government led by Mr Draghi. However, several Five Star lawmakers said the party was deeply divided on the issue and could potentially split.
“For the five-star movement, going to elections after backing the Draghi government would mean there would be less than 10 percent in the polls,” said a five-star lawmaker.
The center-left Democratic Party of Italy and Italia Viva, the small spin-off party led by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, are expected to certainly support the former president of the ECB.
Daniela Sbrollini, an Italia Viva MP, said she believed Mr Draghi would very likely receive enough support to form a government. “There will be a Draghi majority and it will be cross-party,” she said.
“Mario Draghi represents authority, the most pro-European choice that can be made, and therefore a guarantee in the eyes of Europe and the world. Such a high-profile figure allows us to start over and turn a new magazine with a strong pro-European and political impression. “