Italy's president asks Draghi to form govt

Johannes Neudecker and Petra Kaminsky
·2-min read

Italy's president has tasked former European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi with forming a technocratic government after the previous coalition under prime minister Giuseppe Conte collapsed in mid-January.

"I thank the president for the trust," the 73-year-old economist said in Rome on Wednesday following the meeting with President Sergio Mattarella.

An internationally trained economist, Draghi was given the nickname "Super Mario" by the press - a moniker that stuck over the years.

For weeks, Draghi had been talked about as a potential head of a technocratic government to guide the country through the twin health and economic crises spawned by the coronavirus pandemic.

After weeks of impasse, party negotiations mediated by the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Roberto Fico, to resurrect Italy's governing coalition finally broke down late on Tuesday.

Conte's resignation came in response to former prime minister Matteo Renzi's small-but-essential Italia Viva party leaving the coalition after a spat over how to use pandemic aid from the European Union.

In recent weeks, installing a government of technocrats had been discussed as a possible short-term option in the face of the fighting by political party leaders.

The president's plans for Draghi got a mixed reception, with the populist Five Star Movement - the strongest force in parliament - continuing to call for a political government rather than a team of technocrats.

Ahead of the talks between Mattarella and Draghi on Wednesday, party leader Vito Crimi said the movement would "not vote for the creation of a government of experts chaired by Mario Draghi".

Meanwhile, former prime minister Renzi of the Italia Viva party said he would support the former ECB chief.

Draghi said he would now conduct talks with political parties.

His cabinet must win the support of both chambers of parliament to come to power.

Draghi was president of the ECB between 2011 and 2019, leading the central bank through the eurozone debt crisis and becoming famous for his promise to do "whatever it takes" to save the common currency.