UPDATE: Draghi to attempt to form new Italian government

UPDATE: Draghi to attempt to form new Italian government
Mario Draghi arrives at the presidential palace in Rome for talks with President Mattarella on Wednesday. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
Italian economist Mario Draghi appealed for national unity after he agreed on Wednesday to take on the job of forming and leading a new government.

Draghi, former head of the European Central Bank, said Italy is facing a “difficult moment” after being tasked by President Sergio Mattarella with forming a new government.

“I am confident that… unity will emerge and with it the ability to give a responsible and positive answer to the appeal of the President of the Republic”, said Draghi, following a meeting with Mattarella at noon on Wednesday.

PROFILE: Could 'Super Mario' Draghi lead Italy out of its crisis?

Draghi will now try to create a coalition to replace that led by outgoing premier Giuseppe Conte.

The Milan stock market opened 2.3 percent higher on Wednesday following the news Draghi was being considered for the top job.

President Sergio Mattarella called in Draghi for talks after Italy's ruling parties failed to agree on a new government following a split last month that forced Conte to resign.

Draghi, an Italian economist credited with saving the eurozone at the height of the debt crisis in 2012, is expected to try to put together a 'government of national unity' to navigate the still-raging pandemic.

Alongside the ever-mounting death toll, the country's economy shrank 8.9 percent in 2020 – the biggest slump since the end of World War II.

Mattarella has stressed the urgency of creating a stable government and avoiding elections during the pandemic, which hit Italy first among European nations and has been devastating.

Draghi, dubbed “Super Mario”, has long been cited by political watchers as the man to see Italy through the coming months.
 
Lorenzo Castellani, a political expert at Rome's Luiss University, said he believed a Draghi-led government would be highly technocratic.
 
“The government programme will be 99 percent occupied by the pandemic and the recovery fund,” he said, adding that it would likely find support among lawmakers.
 
 
But everything still depends on whether the economist can  secure a majority of support among lawmakers, before submitting to a vote of confidence in parliament.
 
So far the Democratic Party appears on board, as does Renzi, but the Five Star Movement (M5S), the biggest party in parliament once defined by its euroscepticism and anti-“elite” stance, is split.
 
One of the M5S leaders, Vito Crimi, warned: “This type of executive has already been adopted in the past, with extremely negative consequences for Italian citizens.”


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