Mario Draghi sworn in as Italy’s prime minister

Ross Houston
February 13, 2021

Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi will be sworn-in on Saturday.

The Italian president swore in the former chief of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, as prime minister on Saturday at the head of a unity government called on to confront the coronvirus crisis and economic slump.

Members of his new cabinet, who include technocrats, veteran politicians and ministers held over from the previous government, each took the oath of office. Draghi also has the support of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia and former Premier Matteo Renzi's Italy Alive Party.

However, some key posts went to non-affiliated technocrats, including Daniele Franco, 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.

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 pummeling the country.

The government faces a confidence vote next week - a formality given its cross-party backing.

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

Known for his reserved manner, Mr Draghi has kept out of sight during the political consultations and meetings with prospective Cabinet members.

Luigi Di Maio, a leader of the 5-Star Movement, will remain foreign minister, while Giancarlo Giorgetti, a senior figure in the League party, will be industry minister.

Draghi also reportedly promised to create a powerful ministry for ecological transition, a move that helped win over support from 5-Star for whom environmentalism is a core concern.

His arrival was greeted with delight by the financial markets, and Italy's borrowing costs dropped to a historic low this week.

But "it is hard to overstate the scale of the challenges that Draghi and Italy face", said Luigi Scazzieri, of the Centre for European Reform. Italy is mired in its worst downturn since World War Two, hundreds of people are still dying of Covid-19 each day, the vaccination campaign is going slowly and he only has limited time to sort things out.

The virus remains rife and Conte's cabinet, in one of its last acts, tightened curbs in four regions and extended a ban on travelling between regions.

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

The country is pinning its hopes on receiving more than 220 billion euros ($267 billion) in European Union recovery funds to help 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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