The former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has been sworn in as Italy’s prime minister at the head of a unity government called on to confront the coronavirus crisis and economic slump.
Draghi, a respected figure at home and internationally, managed to convince almost all of the country’s main parties to support his government, with leaders from the far-right League and populist Five Star Movement (M5S) adopting more moderate, pro-European tones in recent days.
Draghi’s appointment ends weeks of political turmoil triggered after Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva from a ruling coalition made up of M5S and the centre-left Democratic party because of clashes over how the government was planning to spend the €200bn-plus that Italy is poised to receive from the EU’s Covid-19 recovery fund. Renzi’s move led to Giuseppe Conte stepping down as prime minister.
Draghi, nicknamed “Super Mario” for his role in saving the euro, also has overwhelming support from the Italian press, which over the last week have feted him as “a new Italian miracle”.
The expectations that he will be able to reverse Italy’s fortunes are therefore as high as the stakes. Among his first major tasks will be to accelerate a vaccination programme as Italy strives to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far left 93,000 people dead, while at the same time rescuing the economy from the worst recession since the second world war.