Tag Archives: Mario Draghi

Draghi become Italy’s new Prime Minister; begins unity Gov’t.

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Politicians he met this week said he told them he is opposed to fiscal austerity, despite soaring national debt levels, given the importance of protecting social cohesion.

Mario Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, has agreed to serve as the next prime minister of Italy and unveiled a cabinet that mixed unaffiliated technocrats with politicians from across a broad coalition.

President Sergio Mattarella asked Draghi to be prime minister after party wrangling brought down the previous administration, and set him the task of tackling the coronavirus health crisis and economic meltdown pummelling the country.

Following a week of consultations, almost all the main parties from across the political spectrum have endorsed Draghi, and on Friday he named several prominent figures from these various groups as ministers to cement their support.

Luigi Di Maio, a leader of the Five Star Movement, will remain foreign minister, while Giancarlo Giorgetti, a senior figure in the League party, will be industry minister. Andrea Orlando from the centre-left Democratic Party will be labour minister.

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Technocrats included
However, some key posts went to non-affiliated technocrats, including Daniele Franco, the director general of the Bank of Italy, who was named as economy minister and Roberto Cingolani, a physicist and IT expert, who was handed the new role of minister for green transition.

There were only eight women in the 23-strong cabinet.

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The new team will be sworn in on Saturday, opening the way for debates in both houses of parliament early next week, where Draghi will unveil his policy plans and face votes of confidence – a formality given his cross-party backing.

Draghi received a boost on Thursday when the largest group in parliament, the Five Star Movement, agreed to support the government, meaning it will have such a large majority that no single party will have the numbers to bring it down.

Draghi is tasked with tackling the coronavirus health crisis and economic meltdown pummelling Italy [Yara Nardi/Pool/Reuters]

One of the reasons so many parties have joined forces in the ruling coalition is that they all want to have a say in how Italy spends more than 200 billion euros ($242bn) it is set to receive from a European Union economic recovery fund.

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Draghi, 73, is widely credited with having saved the euro currency during his time in charge of the ECB and he will no doubt be influential now in shaping EU debate on how the bloc should engineer its economic revival.

Politicians he met this week said he told them he is opposed to fiscal austerity, despite soaring national debt levels, given the importance of protecting social cohesion.

He also honoured a pledge to create the powerful new ministry for ecological transition, which combines the environment and energy portfolios, helping win over the Five Star for whom green issues are core concerns.

Policies to fight climate change are required to be a pillar of the recovery plans to be presented by EU countries to the European Commission by April.

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Draghi has also said he will make the coronavirus vaccine programme a priority.

Italy has registered about 93,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe.

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#Newsworthy

Former Bank Boss set to be Italy’s new PM.

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An online vote on whether to take part was delayed earlier this week when M5S founder Beppe Grillo asked Draghi for more details on action he would take on the environment.

With almost all the political parties behind him, Mario Draghi on Friday entered the final straight in his bid to form a new government to lead Italy through the coronavirus pandemic.

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The former European Central Bank chief, called in after the outgoing centre-left coalition collapsed, could visit President Sergio Mattarella as early as Friday evening to be officially named prime minister.

Draghi has spent the last nine days assembling a government of national unity to manage the deadly pandemic that hit Italy almost exactly one year ago, triggering a deep recession.

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After securing the support late Thursday of the final key player, the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), Draghi has almost all the main parties on board, from leftists to the far-right League.

“The Draghi government is born,” headlined Rome-based daily Il Messaggero, while Milan’s Corriere Della Sera added: “Draghi in the home stretch.”

The 73-year-old economist must present a list of ministers when he visits Mattarella, but he has kept extremely coy, speaking in public only once since being asked to form a government.

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With the outgoing government due to hold one last cabinet meeting on Friday, there was speculation that Draghi might wait until Saturday before heading to the presidential palace.

Italy has high hopes for its new leader, dubbed Super Mario after vowing to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro single currency in the 2010s debt crisis.

Mattarella asked him to step in on February 3 after outgoing premier Giuseppe Conte resigned following weeks of political turmoil in his M5S-led coalition.

The president emphasised the urgency of moving quickly to fill the political vacuum as Italy’s Covid-19 death toll approaches 100,000 and the country battles its worst recession since World War II.

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Italy is hoping to receive more than 200 billion euros ($243 billion) in grants and loans from the European Union’s recovery fund to help it get back on its feet.

But Draghi will have to balance demands for immediate hand-outs against the need for long-term structural reforms in Italy — tensions that brought down the last government.

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Broad support
Leaders of M5S, the biggest party in parliament, had indicated early on that they would support Draghi’s efforts to form a broad-based new government — but the membership was divided.

An online vote on whether to take part was delayed earlier this week when M5S founder Beppe Grillo asked Draghi for more details on action he would take on the environment.

The vote was rescheduled for Thursday after the party claimed it had been promised a beefed-up minister “for ecological transition” — and members voted by 59.3 percent to back Draghi.

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The economist would have probably been able to form a government even without the M5S, but “it is important for him to set off with the broadest possible parliamentary majority”, noted Federico Santi, an analyst at Eurasia Group.

Italy has been without a fully functioning government for almost a month since former prime minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party from Conte’s coalition, which also included the M5S and centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

Conte eventually resigned on January 26. Mattarella gave the M5S, the PD and Renzi time to patch things up, but when that failed, called in Draghi.

Draghi’s arrival was greeted with delight on the financial markets — Italy’s borrowing costs dropped to a historic low this week — but the task facing him is huge.

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The EU is expecting Rome’s plan on how to spend the recovery funds in April, while unemployment — at 426,000 higher than one year ago — risks rising further later this year if an existing freeze on job dismissals is not extended.

Another priority is speeding up Italy’s coronavirus vaccination programme, which made a promising start in December but has since slowed, against a backdrop of rising concern about the spread of new variants.

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#Newsworthy

Rally spikes behind Mario Draghi in Italy Gov’t talks.

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The League will have to overcome its reluctance to work with the PD and possible reservations about Draghi personally.

Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi on Saturday wrapped up the first round of talks aimed at forming a new Italian government, hoping to drag the country out of its economic and Covid-19 crises.

Summoned by President Sergio Mattarella this week after prime minister Giuseppe Conte’s coalition collapsed, Draghi — dubbed “Super Mario” for extricating the eurozone from its debt crisis early last decade — has already rallied some political players behind him.

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The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the small Italia Viva outfit of centrist former premier Matteo Renzi — the man behind the collapse of the last government — had promised support, as well as Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia (FI).

On Saturday, the far-right League led by Matteo Salvini — one of two heavyweight anti-establishment parties alongside the Five Star Movement (M5S) — signalled its readiness for the economist to form Italy’s 67th government since World War II.

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“We stand ready. We are the biggest political force in the country, we are a force that should be in government… unlike some, we don’t think we can get ahead by always saying no,” Salvini said after meeting Draghi.

Italy’ Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks to media on Colonna square as he leaves Palazzo Chigi in Rome on February 4, 2021. – Former European Central Bank chief urged Italy’s splintered parties on February 3 to get behind him as he tries to form a new government amid political turmoil. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

“I prefer to be on the inside and in control,” he said.

While he did not reveal any conditions for joining a government, the former interior minister said his final decision would come after a second round of talks next week.

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‘Confidence in Europe‘ –
Time is ticking as Italy must present plans for how it will spend around 200 billion euros ($241 billion) from the EU’s pandemic recovery fund — the largest share for any single country — by the end of April.

Draghi “already has the confidence of Europe and the markets. Soon he will receive parliament’s confidence,” daily Il Corriere della Sera predicted.

Wolfango Piccoli of consulting firm Teneo agreed.

“The question has somewhat shifted from ‘if’ Draghi could form a government to ‘how’ this government will be constituted, meaning which parties will be part of the coalition.”

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Draghi’s final weekend meeting was with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), which had backed Conte to the hilt with its roughly one-third of MPs and senators.

But saying he had always worked “for the good of the country,” Conte on Thursday promised not to be an “obstacle” to Draghi and wished him “good luck!”

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The League will have to overcome its reluctance to work with the PD and possible reservations about Draghi personally.

The former central banker personifies a European elite that the nationalist, anti-immigration party and its counterparts across the bloc love to hate.

– Pandemic havoc –
After finishing his first round of talks with politicians Saturday, Draghi will meet civil society groups like unions on Monday before tackling the political parties again later next week.

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While the wrangling goes on, the European Union’s third-largest economy is ailing from the effects of coronavirus after shrinking 8.9 percent last year — one of the sharpest drops in the eurozone single-currency area.

A harsh lockdown in March and April brought activity to a near-standstill after Italy became the first European nation to suffer a coronavirus wave.

So far Italy has recorded more than 90,000 Covid-19 deaths — the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain — and 2.6 million cases.

The more contagious British coronavirus variant has also been detected in some people testing positive.

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If Draghi fails to secure a parliamentary majority or loses MPs’ backing after taking office, Italy could hold early elections, probably in June.

But Mattarella, who would make such a call, said Tuesday that he wanted to avoid going to the polls while the country suffers through its health and economic shocks.

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#Newsworthy