Draghi forms new govt blending experts, political operatives


Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has formally accepted the Italian premiership, paving the way for a new government to be sworn in on Saturday.

Mario Draghi, credited with saving the euro as president of the European Central Bank at the height of the eurozone crisis, will become Italy's new prime minister with a cabinet comprising a broad base of political parties and technocrats.

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.

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.

"The Draghi government is born", headlined Rome-based daily Il Messaggero, while Milan's Corriere Della Sera added: "Draghi in the home stretch".

The 73-year-old economist must present a list of ministers when he visits Mattarella, but he has kept extremely coy, speaking in public only once since being asked to form a government. Draghi also has the support of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia and former Premier Matteo Renzi's Italy Alive Party. "From now on, I won't speak in the name of the 5Star Movement, also because now the 5Star Movement doesn't speak in my name", Di Battista said in a Facebook video broadcast from his kitchen. Italy has registered nearly 93,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February a year ago, the second-highest toll in Europe.

One of the reasons so many parties have joined forces in the ruling coalition is that they all want to have a say in how Italy spends more than $307.8 billion it is set to receive from a European Union economic recovery fund.

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Their support means no one party will be able to bring down Draghi's government on its own.

M5S founder Beppe Grillo held up the vote of members until Draghi agreed to have a Green "Super-Minister" in charge of orchestrating the ecological transformation of the economy in his new cabinet.

The members of the M5S, the biggest group in parliament, voted to back the government by a majority of around 60% to 40%.

Italy has been without a fully functioning government for nearly a month since former prime minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party from Conte's coalition, which also included the M5S and centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

Conte eventually resigned on January 26.

Draghi's arrival was greeted with delight on the financial markets - Italy's borrowing costs dropped to a historic low this week - but the task facing him is huge.