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Mario Draghi sworn in as Italy’s prime minister

Mario Draghi was formally sworn in as Italy's new prime minister on Saturday, following weeks of instability in the eurozone's third-largest economy.

Mario Draghi sworn in as Italy's prime minister
Draghi was parachuted in by President Sergio Mattarella after the Giuseppe Conte's centre-left coalition collapsed. Photo: AFP

“I swear to be loyal to the Republic,” recited Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, as he stood before President Sergio Mattarella in the ornate presidential palace in a ceremony broadcast live on television.

Members of his new cabinet, who include technocrats, veteran politicians and ministers held over from the previous government, each took the oath of office.

The 73-year-old, known as Super Mario for doing “whatever it takes” to save the eurozone, has put together a national unity government involving almost all Italy's political parties.

READ ALSO: These are Italy's new government ministers under Mario Draghi

A new survey showed the former banker had the support of 62 percent of Italians.

Draghi was parachuted in by President Sergio Mattarella after the Giuseppe Conte's centre-left coalition collapsed.

Draghi has spent the last 10 days assembling a broad-based coalition and on Friday night formally accepted the post of prime minister in a meeting with Mattarella.

On Wednesday, Draghi will be presented to the Senate, the upper house of parliament, followed by the lower Chamber of Deputies on Thursday for a confidence vote that will give the final official blessing to his government.

“Break a leg,” read the headline on La Stampa daily Saturday, as an Ipsos poll in the Corriere della Sera daily showed 62 percent of Italians supporting Draghi.

Conte's final months in office were marked by political turmoil but the former law professor – who rose to power in 2018 with no prior political experience – represented for many Italians a comforting, steady hand during the darkest moments of the pandemic last year.


Draghi has the support of a rainbow coalition ranging from leftists to Matteo Salvini's far-right League.

It includes the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and Italia Viva – who formed the previous government before falling out over the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: The three biggest issues facing Italy's new government

High hopes await the new leader, who famously pledged to do “whatever it takes” to save the eurozone in the midst of the 2010s debt crisis.

On Saturday, European Commmision President Ursula von der Leyden tweeted that Draghi's “experience will be an exceptional asset for Italy & Europe” while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated him.

Although Draghi himself has no political power base, he relies on years of experience in the Italian civil service, as well as his banking career.

His arrival was cheered by the financial markets with Italy's borrowing costs dropping to a historic low this week. Nevertheless, “it is difficult to overstate the scale of the challenges that Draghi and Italy face”, said Luigi Scazzieri of the Centre for European Reform.

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ITALIAN POLITICS

Will Italy’s Five Star Movement split throw the government into crisis?

After the largest party in Italy's coalition government imploded over the country's response to the Ukraine war, Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Wednesday called for unity. Is another political crisis on the horizon?

Will Italy's Five Star Movement split throw the government into crisis?

Draghi has taken a firm, pro-EU line on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: sending weapons to Kyiv, backing sanctions on Moscow despite Italy’s heavy reliance on Russian gas, and supporting Ukraine’s hopes of joining the European Union.

But there have been rumblings of unease within his coalition government, which burst into the open on Tuesday with a split in parliament’s biggest party, the Five Star Movement.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio announced he was leaving the party amid disagreements over how Italy should respond to the Ukraine war.

An estimated 60 lawmakers are following him into his breakaway group, named “Together for the Future” – just over a quarter of Five Star’s MPs.

READ ALSO: Italian government rocked by Five Star party split

The move risks upsetting the fragile balance of power in Draghi’s coalition government, a year before general elections are due and at a difficult time for Italians battling skyrocketing inflation.

A vote on Wednesday suggested parliament still overwhelmingly backs the premier, with the lower Chamber of Deputies approving by 410 to 29 a resolution supporting the Ukraine policy.

The Senate similarly approved it on Tuesday.

Luigi Di Maio (R) applauds after Prime Minister Mario Draghi (L) addresses the Italian Senate on June 21st, 2022. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

“Unity is essential in these moments because the decisions that must be taken are very difficult,” Draghi said before Wednesday’s result, which came one day before an EU summit in Brussels begins.

In an uncharacteristically combative address to deputies, Draghi accused those who disagreed with his policy of effectively calling on Kyiv to surrender.

“There is a fundamental difference between two points of view. One is mine – Ukraine must defend itself, and sanctions and the sending of weapons serve this goal,” Draghi said to applause.

“The other point of view is different. Ukraine must not defend itself, we shouldn’t do sanctions, we shouldn’t send armaments, Russia is too strong, why should we take her on, let Ukraine submit.”

Di Maio had made a similar attack on members of his own party at the weekend, paving the way for Tuesday’s defection.

Five Star leader Giuseppe Conte, the country’s former premier, has argued that Italy should focus on a diplomatic solution, warning against getting involved in an escalating arms race.

Conte and Di Maio have been at odds since long before the war, however.

Five Star leader Giuseppe Conte stressed that his party still backed the coalition, saying: “Support for Draghi is not up for discussion.”

Nevertheless, some commentators believe Draghi’s coalition government – involving all main political parties except the far-right Brothers of Italy – will start to splinter ahead of 2023 elections.

The Five Star split is likely to weigh on “the entire political system, starting with Draghi, who is now more shaky than before,” wrote La Stampa columnist Marcello Sorgi.

The defections in Five Star leave the anti-immigration League of Matteo Salvini as the biggest party in parliament, but it too is struggling with waning public support.

Media reports this week suggest this could work in Giorgia Meloni’s favour in the next election – the far-right Brothers of Italy leader is now being touted as potentially becoming the country’s first female prime minister, as her party remains the only one in opposition to Draghi’s coalition.

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