Former ECB’s Draghi positioned to lead Italy after policy failure

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Rome – Former European bank chief Mario Draghi was able to lead what could quickly become Italy’s next government after the Italian president concluded on Tuesday that the warring political parties had failed in a last-ditch effort to form a new coalition and that the nation could hardly afford new elections while engulfed in the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Sergio Mattarella told the nation there were only two options left after the “negative outcome” of days of frantic political negotiations to recompose the center-left coalition that formed Giuseppe Conte’s recently collapsed government.

The first was “a new government, capable of dealing with the current serious emergencies: health, social, economic and financial,” said Mattarella, who is the head of state. The second, he said, concerned immediate early elections, a possibility that deserved careful consideration “because elections are an exercise in democracy.”

Mattarella quickly decided that Italy needed a “high-level government, which should not identify with any political formula” and which would be supported by the current political forces in parliament. He stopped before saying who he was thinking of for the post of prime minister.

But right after his speech, a presidential palace official announced that Draghi, 73, who was credited with saving Europe’s single currency during his tenure as president of the European Central Bank in 2011-2019, had summoned to meet Mattarella at noon Wednesday. This would give Draghi the opportunity to formally accept such a mandate.

The fragile prospects of relaunching the Conte government through a reshuffled political coalition disintegrated after former prime minister Matteo Renzi refused after days of frantic negotiations. Conte resigned last week after Renzi withdrew his ministers from his small centrist Italy Alive party to protest what he said was the prime minister’s clumsiness over the coronavirus pandemic.

Conte is now acting as a caretaker.

Mattarella noted that after the 2013 election it took four months to put a government in place, and after the 2018 election it took five months. To repeat this would leave Italy to suffer without a government in “the fullness of its functions for months, crucial, decisive, for the fight against the pandemic to use European funding and face serious social problems,” he said. .

“All these concerns are very much in the minds of our fellow citizens, who are asking for concrete and rapid answers to their daily problems”, declared the president.

Nicknamed “Super Mario” for his work as President of the European Central Bank during the single currency crisis, Draghi has been cited throughout recent weeks of the Italian political crisis as a possible solution if politicians could not. not overcome personality and political conflicts for the good of the nation.

The pandemic devastated Italy’s long-stagnant economy and left the country with the second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths in Europe. The government statistical agency ISTAT reported on Monday that nearly 450,000 jobs were lost last year.

In the latest talks that failed on Tuesday, parties in what is now Conte’s caretaker government argued over aid for the European Union’s pandemic and other key political issues that were blocking training. a stronger coalition.

Mattarella had given the collapsed coalition parties a few days to see if they could regroup in a new government with a reliable majority in parliament.

His call for broad support for the next government was quickly echoed by a deputy from the opposition party Forza Italia led by media mogul and former center-right Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Mara Carfagna said Mattarella’s call “for responsibility should spark genuine and deep reflection in anyone who loves Italy and Italians and who still holds the true sense of global patriotism.”

Previously, Renzi put all the blame on the failed effort on other parties, saying: “We take note of the ‘nyet’ of ex-coalition colleagues”, using the Russian word for “no”.

In turn, the 5-star populist movement, which has been the main partner in consecutive storytelling governments since coming to power in 2018, argued that all Renzi wanted was more power.

“Obviously the goal was to get more (Cabinet) positions. It was his most pressing goal “to provoke the crisis,” said Vito Crimi, a 5-star leader.

With the exception of Renzi, all the other leaders of the old coalition parties had thrown their public weight behind Conte for a new term.

Withdrawing his support, Renzi asserted that Conte was rising to the challenge of managing how more than € 200 billion (around $ 250 billion) in EU funds and loans would be spent to help Italy survive. recover from the damage of the pandemic, especially to the Italian economy.

The 5-star movement, close to Conte, has resisted the acceptance of billions of euros in EU loans aimed at strengthening the health system, aid populists fear could make Italy beholden to the dictates of the ‘EU such as austerity measures.

Renzi had insisted that Italy take help from the Brussels health system.

The center-left Democratic Party, which Renzi led during his tenure as Prime Minister in 2014-2016 and from which he split to start Italy Alive shortly after Conte formed his second coalition government in September 2019, was largely caught in the crossfire.

The first government of Conte, which took office in June 2018, established a partnership between the 5 stars and the Right League of Matteo Salvini. This coalition collapsed when Salvini withdrew his support in a failed maneuver to secure the post of prime minister for himself. The Democrats, which then included Renzi, replaced Salvini’s forces in Conte’s second government.

Salvini had lobbied Mattarella unsuccessfully for an early election.

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